WHO laments high suicide rate

WHO DG Tedros Ghebreyesus: laments high suicide rate

By Cecilia Ologunagba/Agency Report

World Health Organisation (WHO) said one in every 100 dies by their own hand, noting that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

WHO, in its latest estimates, published on Thursday in “Suicide worldwide in 2019” revealed that every year, more people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer ̶ or war and homicide.

“In 2019, more than 700,000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.

“We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide,” said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, adding that, “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.

“The new guidance that WHO is releasing today provides a clear path for stepping up suicide prevention efforts,” he said.

The report stated that among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence.

“Rates vary, between countries, regions, and between males and females. More than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100, 000 males compared with 5.4 per 100 000 females).

“Suicide rates among men are generally higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100, 000); for females, the highest suicide rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100, 000).

“Suicide rates in the WHO African (11.2 per 100, 000), European (10.5 per 100, 000) and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100, 000) regions were higher than the global average (9.0 per 100, 000) in 2019.

“The lowest suicide rate was in the Eastern Mediterranean region (6.4 per 100, 000),” it stated.

According to the report, globally the suicide rate is decreasing and in America, it is going up.

It stated that suicide rates fell in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate decreasing by 36 per cent, with decreases ranging from 17 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47 per cent in the European Region and 49 per cent in the Western Pacific.

“But in the Americas Region, rates increased by 17 per cent in the same time period.

“Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted; currently only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.

“A significant acceleration in the reduction of suicides is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) target of a one-third reduction in the global suicide rate by 2030.

The UN health Agency, therefore, expressed optimism that WHO’s new guidance on suicide would help the world reach the target of reducing the suicide rate by 1/3 by 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 behavior.

“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,” it added.

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