World Suicide Prevention Day promotes worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. Suicide is a multi-determined phenomenon that occurs against a background of complex interacting biological, social, psychological and environmental risk and protective factors. Despite the complexity of this phenomenon, suicide can be prevented.
On average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. The sponsoring International Association for Suicide Prevention, the co-sponsor WHO and other partners advocate for the prevention of suicidal behaviour, provision of adequate treatment and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide, as well as responsible reporting of suicides in the media.
At the global level, awareness needs to be raised that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be translated into prevention programmes and activities in communities.
- Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.
- In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.
- Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998, and 2.4% in countries with market and former socialist economies in 2020.
- Although traditionally suicide rates have been highest among the male elderly, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.
- Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America; however, in Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.
- Strategies involving restriction of access to common methods of suicide, such as firearms or toxic substances like pesticides, have proved to be effective in reducing suicide rates; however, there is a need to adopt multi-sectoral approaches involving many levels of intervention and activities.
- There is compelling evidence indicating that adequate prevention and treatment of depression and alcohol and substance abuse can reduce suicide rates, as well as follow-up contact with those who have attempted suicide.
Challenges and obstacles
- Worldwide, the prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to basically a lack of awareness of suicide as a major problem and the taboo in many societies to discuss openly about it. In fact, only a few countries have included prevention of suicide among their priorities.
- Reliability of suicide certification and reporting is an issue in great need of improvement.
- It is clear that suicide prevention requires intervention also from outside the health sector and calls for an innovative, comprehensive multi-sectoral approach, including both health and non-health sectors, e.g. education, labour, police, justice, religion, law, politics, the media.
Source: World Health Organisation
First Published: Sep 10, 2012 at 7:30 AM