The World Health Organization (WHO) on 4 September 2014 released its first global report on suicide prevention. The report is aimed to increase awareness of suicide and suicide attempts among the people and urge governments to develop comprehensive suicide prevention strategies.
The report was launched just a week before World Suicide Prevention Day that is observed every year on 10 September. The Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention around the world.
Highlights of the WHO's first global report on suicide prevention
• More than 800000 people die by suicide every year and around one person dies every 40 seconds.
• Around 75 percent of suicides occur in low and middle income countries.
• Usually, people use pesticide poisoning, hanging and firearms to commit suicide.
• The key to reduce deaths by suicide is a commitment by national governments to the coordinated plan of action.
• Presently, only 28 countries have implemented national suicide prevention strategies.
• Suicide occurs all over the world and can take place at almost any age. However, suicide rates are highest in people who are 70 years old and above.
• Notably, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year-olds.
• In low- and middle-income countries, adults and elderly women have higher rates of suicide than in high-income countries where more men die by suicide than women.
• Women over 70 years old are more likely to die by suicide than women aging between 15-29 years.
Ways to prevent suicide as suggested in the report
• One way to reduce deaths by suicide is to limit the access to means of suicide.
• Other effective measures include responsible reporting of suicide in the media by avoiding the language that sensationalizes suicide.
• Early identification and management of mental disorders in communities and by health workers in particular can help in reducing the deaths.
• A proper follow-up care by health workers through regular contact of people who have attempted suicide is essential as people who already attempted suicide are at the greater risk of trying it again.
• WHO recommended countries to involve government departments in developing a comprehensive coordinated response. High-level commitment is needed in the health sector as well in education, employment, social welfare and judicial departments.
The global target
WHO Member States have committed themselves to achieve the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10% by 2020 as states in the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020.
WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme was launched in 2008. It prioritized suicide prevention and provided evidence-based technical guidance to expand service provision in countries.
Suicide in the WHO region
In the WHO African Region, the estimated suicide rate was close to the global average of 11.4 per 100000 in 2012. The most common method of committing suicide is the intentional pesticide ingestion.
In the WHO Region of the Americas, estimated suicide rates are generally lower. Guyana is the country with the highest estimated suicide rate for 2012 globally and Suriname has the sixth highest.
In the WHO European Region, the estimated suicide rate is somewhat above the global average of 11.4 per 100000 in 2012. Six European countries are among the top 20 countries with the highest estimated suicide rates globally. Lithuania has the fifth highest and Kazakhstan has the tenth highest globally.
In the WHO Western Pacific Region, the estimated suicide rate in low and middle income countries is lower than the global average of 11.4 per 100000 in 2012. The Republic of Korea is the country with the third highest estimated suicide rate and China accounted for the second highest estimated number of suicides in 2012 globally.
Suicide in the WHO South-East Asia Region
In the WHO South-East Asia Region, the estimated suicide rate is the highest as compared to other WHO regions. Mostly, suicides in the world occur in the South-East Asia Region with 39 percent of those in low and middle income countries.
India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides in 2012. Suicide by intentional pesticide ingestion is one of the most common methods of suicide globally and particularly in rural agricultural areas of the South-East Asia Region.
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When: 4 September 2014