Changes in the suicide rate in Sweden have been studied over the period 1749-1975. It has risen from about 2 per 100,000 inhabitants at the middle of the 18th century to about 20 per 100,000 during the period 1971-1975. Thus a more than tenfold increase is evident. From the non-standardized figures a real and substantial increase can be demonstrated which becomes even more apparent after standardization. This increase is independent of variations in the age composition of the population. The increase has occurred in the younger age groups: between the ages of 20 and 35 years, i. e.during the most active years of life, suicide is the leading cause of death today. An account of legislative measures for suicide prevention during this period is also presented. There is considerable support for the assumption that the low suicide rate registered in Sweden up to the beginning of the 19th century was an effect of the powerful influence of religion over the population.