While it is encouraging to see more and more discussion around the subject of mental health, there is a lot that needs to be done. People continue to lose loved ones and in many countries the stigma associated with the issue continues to add the problem.
According to recent figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in every hundred deaths is due to suicide. In 2019, alone more than 700,000 people died by suicide around the world. This figure is more than that killed by diseases, murder or war.
With the aim to cut the suicide rate by a third by 2030, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghrebeyesus, the Director General of WHO has launched new guidance. At the event he said that the deaths must not be ignored – particularly as many of the risk factors for suicide have only become more prevalent during the covid-19 pandemic. “We cannot and must not ignore suicide,” he said.
He further added; “Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months living with the covid-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide, job loss, financial stress and social isolation still very much present.”
In most parts of the world, suicide rates are already declining. Rates have fallen by 36 per cent since 2000. But in the Americas, rates have increased by 17 per cent over the last 20 years. However, it is important to consider the fact that these figures are pre-pandemic, and its impact on suicide remains unclear, although recent research from Thailand showed a rise in 2020.
The WHO in an official statement shared that more efforts were needed globally whatever the impact of covid-19, because rates are not coming down fast enough even before the crisis.
Moreover, only 38 countries are known to have national suicide prevention strategies. In addition to this progress also remains uneven across different genders and age groups.
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for young people in the age group of 15-29, after road injury, tuberculosis, and violence.
More than twice as many men as women die due to suicide 12.6 per 100,000 males compared with 5.4 per 100,000 females. Rates are higher for men in high income countries, whereas for women, rates are higher in lower-middle income countries.
The WHO added that a key preventive strategy would be limiting access to means of suicide, for example by banning dangerous pesticides as well as restricting access to firearms and installing barriers at jump sites. National bans of the toxic chemicals in pesticides were a particularly effective step, WHO also said that because self-poisoning with pesticides is estimated to cause around 20 per cent of all suicides. It is one of the leading causes of suicide across Asia.
Other important strategies include working with adolescents to develop socio-emotional skills, because half of mental health conditions appear before the age of 14.
Educating the media on the responsible reporting of suicide, and working with social media companies, as well as improving the identification and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts, are also central, WHO said.
As the figures show per 100,000 people, the 2019 global average of suicide rates stood at 9.0, while that number jumped to 11.2 in the WHO Africa region; 10.5 in Europe; and 10.2 in Southeast Asia. At 6.4, the Eastern Mediterranean region had the lowest rate.
Dr Tedros said “Each one is a tragedy.”
WHO said, “A significant acceleration” in suicide reduction is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target by 2030.
A previous suicide attempt is one of the most important risk factors for a future suicide, said the UN health agency. Healthcare workers should be trained in early identification, assessment, management and follow-up and crisis services should also be available to individuals in acute distress, according to the guidance.
“A comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy should be the ultimate goal for all governments”, Alexandra Fleischmann, WHO suicide prevention expert said, adding that “LIVE LIFE interventions can save lives and prevent the heartbreak that follows for those left behind”.
From : pk.mashable.com