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One in Every 100 Dies by their Own Hand, Each Suicide ‘a Tragedy’ – WHO

Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence, according to the study: Suicide worldwide in 2019. It is estimated that more than 700,000 people, or one-in-100, died by suicide during the year.
New research published by the UN health agency on Thursday indicates that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide – taking more lives each year than HIV, malaria, breast cancer, war and homicide.

Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence, according to the study: Suicide worldwide in 2019. It is estimated that more than 700,000 people, or one-in-100, died by suicide during the year.

For every 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.

While rates vary between countries, regions and gender, the analysis shows that more than twice as many men kill themselves, than women. The rates are generally greater in high-income countries, while the highest suicide rates for women were found in lower-middle-income countries.

From job loss to financial stress and social isolation, the many risk factors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic make suicide prevention “even more important now”, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the World Health Organization (WHO) produced new guidelines to help countries reduce that rate by a third, no later than 2030.

WHO’s guidance to suicide prevention, zeros in on four strategies: limiting access to the means of suicide, educating the media on responsible suicide reporting, fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents, and early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of those with suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

The guidance highlights that in the social media age, media reports can prompt copycat suicides, especially when surrounding a celebrity. It calls for suicide coverage to be counteracted with articles highlighting successful recovery from mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts. It also recommends working with social media companies to increase awareness and remove harmful content.

Since half of all mental health conditions appear before children reach 14, adolescence is a critical period, according to WHO, which encourages anti-bullying programmes, support services and clear protocols for people working in schools when suicide risk is identified.

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”, said Alexandra Fleischmann, WHO suicide prevention expert, adding that “LIVE LIFE interventions can save lives and prevent the heartbreak that follows for those left behind”.