Vedder on the song:
It's about him and a bunch of the guys who didn't get as much coverage - the guys who barely got a paragraph instead of ten pages...The thing about Tillman was, he got ten pages but they were all lies. His family is being blocked by our government from finding out what happened...Where are the leaders that are going to represent a galvanized view on what to do next?...Democracy might have a chance at working if people educate themselves on these issues and make their opinions known.
It entered the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart at number three, making it one of the highest debuts of the last several years and becoming the band's first number one on that chart since "Who You Are" in 1996. "World Wide Suicide" was also the band's first number one single of any sort in eight years (since "Given to Fly" hit number one in 1998). The song spent a total of three weeks at number one on the Modern Rock chart. "World Wide Suicide" was the most successful song from Pearl Jam on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, number two on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Without selling any hard copies of the single or distributing CDs to radio programmers, consultants and industry contacts, "World Wide Suicide" became the first digitally delivered number one song in Canadian radio history. On the song's radio success, Vedder stated, "I don't think two or three years ago you could even get a song called "World Wide Suicide" with the word soldier in it played on the radio. The fact that it's getting played a lot, maybe that means that the ocean that is freedom of speech is still healthy enough for a fish to survive in."
In E! Online's review of the album the song was described as one that comes "close to recreating the hard rock thrills of the band's billion-selling debut, Ten. In its review of Pearl Jam, The Guardian pointed out "World Wide Suicide" and stated, "Despite being over 40, [Vedder] musters absolute conviction in writing and singing lyrics of male teenage angst. Jon Pareles of The New York Times called the song "a bitter, furious tirade about a soldier's death and the prospect of endless war. Brian D. Schiller of Slant Magazine called the song "another perfectly serviceable single to add to their canon" and proclaimed it as one of "the band's best pure rock cuts since 'Spin the Black Circle' Jayson Greene of Stylus said, "There is real joy in hearing [Vedder] let it rip again, howling the title of "World Wide Suicide" with relish until it breaks into a screech. The song was named number 11 in Rolling Stone's "The 100 Best Songs of the Year" for 2006 and was also named number 54 in the New York Post's "206 Best Songs to Download of 2006".
|2006||US Billboard Hot 100||41|
|US Modern Rock Tracks||1|
|US Mainstream Rock Tracks||2|
|US Hot Digital Songs||29|
|US Pop 100||47|
|Latvian Singles Chart||45|
|New York Post||United States||"206 Best Songs to Download of 2006"||2006||54|
|Rolling Stone||United States||"The 100 Best Songs of 2006"||2006||11|