With one suicide every 40 seconds, WHO urges action

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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 09 (APP):Somebody dies by taking their own life every 40 seconds, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief said Monday, highlighting key findings of the U.N. agency’s latest report on global suicide estimates.

Speaking in Geneva ahead of World Suicide Prevention day, recognized on 10 September, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’ Director-General, said, “every death is a tragedy for family friends and colleagues,” yet many more suicides can be prevented. All countries should “incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way”, he added.

Since WHO’s first report on the issue was filed in 2014, the number of countries with national suicide prevention strategies has increased, and now stands at 38. However, this participation “is still far too few and governments need to commit to establishing them”, WHO said.

Globally, 79 per cent of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries, however high-income countries have the highest rates of suicide. Incidents are three times higher among men than women in wealthier countries, while these rates are more equal in poorer nations.

Addressing causes, the link between suicide and mental health in well-established in high-income countries, however “many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis”, according to WHO.

Experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior” WHO outlines in its list of key facts. Vulnerable groups who experience discrimination show higher rates of suicide and “by far, the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.”

The complex issue demands coordination across multiple sectors to boost prevention. Stigma surrounding mental disorders, lack of awareness of suicide as a major health problem, and a taboo in many societies to openly discussing it, means many people contemplating suicide are not getting adequate help.