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Suicide

The World Suicide Prevention Day

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Introduction:

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) cosponsor the annual World Suicide Prevention Day on SEP-10 each year. The theme in 2009 was "Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures."

According to their news release,  the purpose of World Suicide Prevention Day is:

"... to improve education about suicide, disseminate information, decrease stigmatization and most importantly, raise awareness that suicide is preventable." 1

The following is excerpted from their news release.

The magnitude of the problem:

Suicide is a leading cause of death for people worldwide, and one of the three leading causes of death for young people under 25. 2 Every year, approximately one million people die by suicide - one death every two minutes. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2020, this annual toll of suicide deaths will have risen to one and a half million, and suicide will represent 2.4% of the global burden of disease.

Suicide deaths account for more than half of all violent deaths in the world - more than all deaths from wars and homicides combined.

Every year, many millions more people make serious suicide attempts which, while they do not result in death, require medical treatment and mental health care, and reflect severe personal unhappiness or illness. Millions more people -- the family members and close friends of those who die by suicide -- are bereaved and affected by suicide each year, with the impact of this loss often lasting for a lifetime. 3

Suicide exacts huge psychological and social costs, and the economic costs of suicide to society (lost productivity, health and social care costs) are estimated at many billions of dollars each year.

Because almost a quarter of suicides in the world are teenagers and young adults aged less than 25 years (250,000 suicides each year), suicide is a leading cause of premature death, accounting for more than 20 million years of healthy life lost.

Suicide is preventable:

Causes of suicide: During the last three decades we have learned a great deal about the causes of this complex behavior. Suicide has biological, cultural, social and psychological risk factors. People from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds are at increased risk of suicidal behavior. Childhood adversity and trauma, and various life stresses as an adult influence risks of suicidal behavior. Serious mental illnesses, most commonly depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, are associated with increased risk of suicide. Diminished social interaction increases suicide risk, particularly among adults and older adults. 4

Suicide can be prevented. Despite its often complex origins, suicide can be prevented. Communities and societies that are well integrated and cohesive have fewer suicides. Restricting access to methods of suicide (such as firearms or pesticides) reduces suicides. Careful media reporting of suicide prevents further suicides. Educating communities and health and social services professionals to better identify people at risk of suicide, encourage them to seek help, and providing them with adequate, sustained and professional care can reduce suicides amongst people with mental illness. Providing adequate support for people who are bereaved by suicide can reduce their risk of suicide.

Support for World Suicide Prevention Day:

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) provides an opportunity for all sectors of the community ‐ the public, charitable organizations, communities, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, politicians and policy makers, volunteers, those bereaved by suicide, other interested groups and individuals ‐ to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention and [World Health Organization] (WHO) to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviors with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities. Those activities may call attention to the global burden of suicidal behavior, and discuss local, regional and national strategies for suicide prevention, highlighting cultural initiatives and emphasizing how specific prevention initiatives are shaped to address local cultural conditions.

Initiatives which actively educate and involve people are likely to be most effective in helping people learn new information about suicide and suicide prevention. Examples of activities which can support World Suicide Prevention Day include:

bulletLaunching new initiatives, policies and strategies on World Suicide Prevention Day,
 
bulletHolding conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures and panels.
 
bulletWriting articles for national, regional and community newspapers and magazines.
 
bulletHolding press conferences.
 
bulletPlacing information on your website.
 
bulletSecuring interviews and speaking spots on radio and television.
 
bulletOrganizing memorial services, events, candlelight ceremonies or walks to remember those who have died by suicide.
 
bulletAsking national politicians with responsibility for health, public health, mental health or suicide prevention to make relevant announcements, release policies or make supportive statements or press releases on WSPD.
 
bulletHolding depression awareness events in public places and offering screening for depression.
 
bulletOrganizing cultural or spiritual events, fairs or exhibitions.
 
bulletOrganizing walks to political or public places to highlight suicide prevention.
 
bulletHolding book launches, or launches for new booklets, guides or pamphlets.
 
bulletDistributing leaflets, posters and other written information.
 
bulletOrganizing concerts, BBQs, breakfasts, luncheons, contests, fairs in public places.
 
bulletWriting editorials for scientific, medical, education, nursing, law and other relevant journals.
 
bulletDisseminating research findings.
 
bulletProducing press releases for new research papers.

References used:

  1. "Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures," International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), at: http://www.iasp.info/ This is a PDF file.
  2. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.. There is one completed suicide about every 16 minutes in the country. See "Facts about suicide."
  3. When a person commits suicide, close family members have a significantly higher rate of committing suicide themselves.
  4. Other groups who are at greater risk for suicide are gays and lesbians, transgender persons and transsexuals, and native North Americans.

Information sources:

bulletThe Resources section of the IASP website initiatives and activities that have been undertaken around the world on previous World Suicide Prevention Days initiatives and activities that have been undertaken around the world on previous World Suicide Prevention Days at: http://www.iasp.info/
bulletN. Farberow, Ed. "Suicide in Different Cultures,: University Park Press, (1975). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store The book appears to be out of print but may be available used at low cost.
bulletDanuta Wasserman, & Camilla, Wasserman, "Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention," Oxford University Press, (2009). Read reviews or order this book
bulletArticles in CRISIS, the journal of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. See: http:// www.iasp.info/ 

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Suicide > here

Original posting: 2009-SEP-11
Latest update: 2009-SEP-11
Source: IASP news release

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