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WHO calls suicide a serious public health problem

SUICIDE is a serious public health problem, the World Health Organisation has said. The WHO says it is estimated that around 20 per cent of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning.

Ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day to be observed tomorrow, the health mother body said every year close to 800,000 people took their own lives while many others attempt suicide.

“Suicide is a serious public health problem, however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multi-sectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed,” the WHO stated.
It stated that every suicide was a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and had long-lasting effects on the people left behind.

WHO indicates that suicide was the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally in 2016.

“While the link between suicide and mental disorders, in particular depression and alcohol use disorders, is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and
illness,” WHO stated.

“It is estimated that around 20 per cent of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low and middle-income countries. Other common methods of
suicide are hanging and firearms. Knowledge of the most commonly used suicide methods is important to devise prevention strategies which have shown to be effective, such as restriction of access to means of suicide.”

WHO stated that there were a number of measures that could be taken at population, sub-population, and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.

“These include reducing access to the means of suicide e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications; reporting by media in a
responsible way; introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress; training of non-specialised health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support,” it stated.

However, the WHO noted that “Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide were not seeking help and therefore not getting the help they need.
The prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it, according to the WHO.

“To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy.”

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