September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, aimed at promoting a global commitment and action to prevent suicides. According to WHO (World Health Organization), nearly 3,000 people commit suicide each day worldwide – out of every 20 people who attempt to end their lives, one dies.
Several organizations have got together to promote the provision of adequate treatment and follow-up care for people who tried to commit suicide, including the International Association for Suicide Prevention and WHO. All parties also call for responsible reporting of suicides in the media.
Suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. WHO urges governments and health authorities to develop policy frameworks for nationwide suicide prevention strategies.
According to the WHO:
- Nearly one million people commit suicide each year.
- Suicide global mortality rate stands at 16 per 100,000 per year
- One person commits suicide somewhere on earth every 40 seconds
- Since 1965 suicide rates have gone up by 60% globally
- Global suicides are estimated to represent 1.8% of the total worldwide burden on disease in 1998
- Suicide rates traditionally have been highest among elderly males. But today, in one third of all countries the suicide rate among young people is higher – among these countries are industrialized and developing nations.
- In Europe and North America depression and alcohol use disorders are major risk factors for suicide
- In Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role in suicides
- Suicide is complex, with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.
Experts say that restricting access to common methods of committing suicide have proven to be effective in bringing down suicide rates. Easy access to firearms or toxic chemicals, such as pesticides can have an impact on suicide rates, according to WHO.
WHO adds that it is important to adopt multi-sectoral approaches involving several levels of intervention and activities.
Adequate prevention and treatment for depression, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse can have an impact on suicide rates. Those who have attempted suicide need follow-up contacts and monitoring.
Most countries, at individual and national levels are simply not aware that suicide is a major problem. In many societies it is a taboo subject. A tiny number of countries so far have included the prevention of suicide among their priorities.
In a report, WHO writes:
It is clear that suicide prevention requires intervention also from outside the health sector and calls for an innovative, comprehensive multi-sectoral approach, including both health and non-health sectors, e.g. education, labour, police, justice, religion, law, politics, the media.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of premature death globally. Suicides outnumber homicides by nearly 2 to 1 in the United States. It is the 11th cause of death in America.
According to WHO, 40% of all suicides occur in China, India and Japan.
The rate of suicide is increasing for the first time in ten years in America. The recent increase in the overall suicide rate in the USA is mainly due to an rise in suicides among Caucasians aged 40-64, with middle-aged females experiencing the largest yearly increase.
In Western societies, although females attempt suicide more often than males, more men die. Some have speculated that this is because men are more likely to use violent means, which have a higher chance in ending in death.
16.5% of all suicides in the USA are related to alcohol.
In Scotland the suicide rate is about double that of England.
Sources: World Health Organization, International Association for Suicide Prevention.
Written by Christian Nordqvist