World Suicide Prevention Day: Working Together to Combat a Crisis
By Faith Thompson
September 11, 2018
September 11, 2018 – We are in the midst of a global suicide crisis. Admissions to psychiatric facilities, suicide attempts and suicide death rates are on the rise all over the world (1). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people will take their own life, equating to one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 this will increase to one death every 20 seconds (2).
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, #WSPD18 (3). A day to recognise that suicide is a personal issue, for individuals and families, but also a public issue that deserves an increased understanding and international commitment to combating its effects.
The link between mental health disorders and suicide is well-accepted and understood, however mental health funding around the world continues to, in many cases, be cut, and suicide rates continue to increase (1,4). “Almost half of the world’s population lives in a country where, on average, there is one psychiatrist (or less) to serve 200,000 people,” says Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “Many low-income countries have less than one mental health specialist per one million population.” (5)
This year’s theme “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”, highlights the collective effort that is needed from communities, governments, healthcare organisations and other stakeholders in society to tackle suicide. This #WSPD18, it is important that we recognise the scale and effect suicide has on society, and that there are proven and effective measures that can be taken to prevent it.
Today, and every day, we must remember the role we can each play in suicide prevention. On a personal level, offering a sympathetic ear when a friend, loved one or acquaintance needs to talk can make all the difference. Studies show that people often want to talk, but find it hard to start the conversation (6). On a more macro level, we must urge our governments and other stakeholders to recognise the impact that suicide has on our society and the role they play in helping to prevent it through the funding of programs and services, and policies and protections.
You can read more about International World Suicide Prevention Day from the International Association of Suicide Prevention and follow on Twitter: #WSPD18. Working together, we can help prevent suicide.
1) Be Frienders Worldwide ‘Suicide Statistics’. https://www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics. Accessed September 2018.
2) World Health Organization ‘Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD)’.http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/wspd/en/. Accessed September 2018
3) Your Mental Health ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’. http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie/get-involved/community-action/world-suicide-prevention-day/. Accessed September 2018.
4) Demyttenaere K, et al. (2004) Prevalence, severity, and unmet need for treatment of mental disorders in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys, JAMA, 291(21):2581-2590.
5) World Health Organization ‘WHO highlights global underinvestment in mental health care‘. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2011/mental_health_20111007/en/. Accessed September 2018.
6) World Health Organization (2000) ‘Preventing Suicide a Resource for Primary Health Care Workers’ Mental and Behavioural Disorders Department of Mental Health.