Every suicide is a tragedy. It is estimated that over 800 000 people die by suicide and that there are many suicide for each death. The impact on families, friends and communities is devastating and far-reaching, even long after persons dear to them have taken their own lives. Unfortunately, suicide all too often fails to be prioritized as a major public health problem. Despite an increase in research and knowledge about suicide and its prevention, the taboo. and stigma surrounding suicide persist and often people do not seek help or are left alone. And if they do seek help, many health systems and services fail to provide timely and effective help. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
In a comprehensive new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the impact that suicide has on families and communities the world over is shown in graphic detail. The report, titled Preventing Suicide: a global imperative, provides a statistical overview of suicide and the efforts being made to curb suicide deaths through prevention and treatment. According to the report, a person commits suicide every forty seconds somewhere in the world and, for every successful suicide, many more attempts are made. Among young people between fifteen and twenty-nine years of age, suicide remains the second most common cause of death worldwide.
And suicide isn't just a problem in industrialized nations. Most suicides takes place in developing countries where suicide prevention programs and resources are often nonexistent. People in need often have nowhere to turn and, because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, are forced to hide their problems until it is too late. To combat this trend, the Sixty-Sixth World Health Assembly adopted the first ever Mental Health Action plan of the World Health Organization in May, 2013. Suicide prevention was a key part of that plan with a goal of reducing the rate of suicide ten percent worldwide by 2025. Though suicide is recognized as being preventable, it is often not given the priority that it deserves by most governments and even gathering reliable statistics can be difficult in many places, especially in countries where suicide is illegal and people attempting to kill themselves risk prison sentences.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.