Today is World Suicide Prevention Day – WHO (World Health Organization) and IASP (International Association for Suicide Prevention) co-sponsor this date every year in their attempt to combat global suicide rates.

Events this year will include:

  • The release of thousands of lanterns in Ireland
  • Volunteer workshops in Malaysia
  • Several organized walks in America and Australia
  • An Inuit Celebration of life ceremony, Parliament Hill, Canada
  • An education seminar in Bangalore, India

According to WHO, approximately one million people commit suicide each year worldwide, that is about one death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempt to do so. Suicide has a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people.

Dr. Lanny Berman, President of IASP, said:

“On World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2011, the theme ‘Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies’ will be embraced. As we develop and implement national and local suicide intervention strategies we need to be aware of cultural factors that can impact on suicidal behavior in diverse settings.

We have seen positive outcomes from our tailored approaches to suicide prevention. For example, the restriction of the sale of charcoal in supermarket chains in Hong Kong has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of suicides by poisoning from charcoal burning, and a concerted community response to suicide prevention at a district level shows a positive impact on rates of deliberate self-harm and suicide.” “

Dr. Berman said that suicide rates are considerably reduced when leaders make suicide prevention a top priority for their entire systems, as is the case in the US Air Force. When programs that concentrate on improving recognition and care of depression are implemented, the number of suicides and suicide attempts go down significantly.

Dr. Berman added:

“In Australia, stricter firearm legislation coincided with a significant reduction in the number of firearm suicides, and, in England, restricted access through altered packaging of over-the-counter- medicines resulted in a reduction in the number of deaths by intentional overdose.

These few examples demonstrate that if we take into account cultural elements, we can make great strides in the advancement of suicide prevention, understanding and practice.”

Activities have been held in over 40 nations throughout the world, IASP informs. World Suicide Prevention Day banners have been prepared in over 40 languages.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death globally. In the USA there are two suicides for every homicide. Worldwide, the suicide rate has gone up by 60% over the last five decades – mainly in industrialized nations.

60% of all suicides occur in Asia. China India and Japan account for about 40% of all suicides, according to WHO.

16.5% of suicides in the USA are alcohol-related. An alcoholic has between 5 and 20 times the risk of committing suicide compared to the rest of the population. Individuals who misuse drugs are 10 to 20 times more likely to take their own lives. Approximately 33% of suicides among those younger than 35 years of age have a primary diagnosis of alcohol or other substance misuse. Among adolescent suicides, alcohol or drug misuse are factors in up to 70% of cases.

In Western countries, men commit suicide more often than women, but women attempt suicide more frequently. Experts say this is probably because men are more willing to end their lives through effective violent means. In the majority of countries throughout the world, drug overdoses make up approximately two-thirds of suicides among females and one-third among males.