“We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide,” said WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. This is what reflects in the new research and guidelines “LIVE LIFE” by the WHO, which warns of suicide remaining one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
In one estimate, the WHO says that one in 100 died by suicide in 2019. Though many countries place suicide prevention high on their agendas, a large number of nations remain uncommitted.
LIVE LIFE is WHO’s approach to suicide prevention. It details the practical aspects of implementing four evidence-based interventions for preventing suicide, plus six cross-cutting pillars which are fundamental for implementation. But preventing suicide is not the responsibility of governments alone.
“Each of us has a role to play, watching out for our friends, families and colleagues and offering them our support when we think they might need it. It can make all the difference,” the WHO Chief said.
Ghebreyesus noted that Covid 19 pandemic makes suicide prevention ‘even more important’ at a time when people suffer from job loss to financial stress and social isolation.
In the research and guideline, the WHO says that suicide was the fourth leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29. This comes after road injury, interpersonal violence and tuberculosis, according to the study: Suicide worldwide in 2019.
Though the rates of suicide varies between gender, countries and gender, the analysis shows that men kill themselves twice more than women. The higher suicides are witnessed in high-income countries. However, low and middle-income countries witness more women suicides.
Those rates are generally greater in high-income countries, while the highest suicide rates for women were found in lower middle-income countries. The WHO says that the 2019 global average of suicide rates stood at 9.0 Per 100,000 people. This number has now jumped to 11.2 in the WHO Africa region; 10.5 in Europe; and 10.2 in Southeast Asia. Though there is a suicide drop of 36 per cent between 2000 and 2019 globally, the Americas Region witnessed a 17 per cent surge.
LIVE LIFE 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
- Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of those with suicidal thoughts and behaviour
The World Health Organisation also mentions that adolescence is a critical period as half of all mental health conditions appear before children reach 14. This calls for anti-bullying programmes, support services and clear protocols for people working in schools.