Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America (in 2002 the population was approximately 175 million). Although life expectancy in Brazil has increased, suicide and other forms of injury-related mortality, such as homicide and accident, have increased as a proportion of overall mortality (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, 1984; Brazil Ministry of Health, 2001). The suicide rate in Brazil (3.0–4.0 per 100 000 inhabitants) is not considered high in global terms (World Health Organization, 1999). Nevertheless, it has followed the world tendency towards growth: during 1980–2000, the suicide rate in Brazil increased by 21%. Elderly people present the highest suicide rates in absolute numbers, but the alarming finding in the Brazilian data is that the youth population is increasingly dying by suicide (Mello-Santos et al, 2005). This statistic partially confirms a forecast by Diekstra & Guilbinat (1993) that the number of deaths by suicide would dramatically increase over the next decades, mainly in developing countries, including Latin America. In these regions, socio-economic factors (such as an increase in divorce and unemployment and a decrease in religiosity) increase the risk of self-harm. We discuss the reasons for the low suicide rate in Brazil and highlight the socio-economic factors affecting its increase among the youth population in particular.