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According to WHO Report ‘One Person Dies Every 40 Seconds Due to Suicide’

Revelations by the World Health Organization-WHO have pointed to disturbing facts that every 40 seconds human life is lost as a result of suicide which translates to about 800,000 deaths annually.

There have been opinions that poverty has contributed to the menace but it appears that suicide rates according to WHO are highest in high-income countries.

The global age-standardized suicide rate [1] for 2016 [2] was 10.5 per 100 000. Rates varied widely, however, between countries, from 5 suicide deaths per 100 000, to more than 30 per 100 000.

While 79% of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate, at 11.5 per 100 000. Nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in high-income countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rate is more equal.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury. Among teenagers aged 15-19 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death among girls (after maternal conditions) and the third leading cause of death in boys (after road injury and interpersonal violence).

“Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues. Yet suicides are preventable. We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.”

The UN health agency however submits that there is progress in suicide prevention activities in some countries, but much more is needed. The number of countries with national suicide prevention strategies has increased in the five years since the publication of WHO’s first global report on suicide.

September 10 is the World Suicide Prevention Day but and WHO says total number of countries with strategies, at just 38, is still far too few and governments need to commit to establishing them.

The best-studied country is Sri Lanka, where a series of bans led to a 70% fall in suicides and an estimated 93 000 lives saved between 1995 and 2015. In the Republic of Korea – where the herbicide paraquat accounted for the majority of pesticide suicide deaths in the 2000s – a ban on paraquat in 2011-2012 was followed by a halving of suicide deaths from pesticide poisoning between 2011 and 2013.

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25 young activists from Crazy Talk took to Westminster Bridge and hanged twenty human figures from the bridge to raise awareness to the increased rates of youth suicide in London, January 10th 2019, Central London, United Kingdom. The twenty dummies represented the twenty young people between ten and nineteen who took their own lives in London in 2017.All the young activists involved in the action have either considered or attempted suicide themselves.[photo by Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Images Images]

The most common methods of suicide are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning, and firearms. Key interventions that have shown success in reducing suicides are restricting access to means; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; implementing programmes among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses; and early identification, management and follow-up of people at risk of suicide.

On Tuesday WHO, in collaboration with global partners, the World Federation for Mental Health, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Mental Health, is launching the 40 seconds of action campaign. The culmination of the campaign will be on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, the focus of which is also suicide prevention this year.

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