By Cecilia Ologunagba
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that one in 100 people die at their own hands, noting that suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
The WHO, in its latest estimates, published Thursday in “Suicide in the world in 2019” revealed that each year more people die from suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer. ̶ or war and homicide.
“In 2019, more than 700,000 people died by suicide: one in 100 deaths, prompting WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.
“We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide,” said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, adding that “everyone is a tragedy.
“Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, with many risk factors for suicide ̶ job loss, financial stress and social isolation – still very much present.
“The new guidance that the WHO is issuing today offers a clear path for scaling up suicide prevention efforts,” he said.
The report indicated that among young people aged 15 to 29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road accidents, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence.
“Rates vary between countries, regions and between men and women. More than twice as many men die by suicide than women (12.6 per 100,000 men compared to 5.4 per 100,000 women).
“Male suicide rates are generally higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100,000); among women, the highest suicide rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100,000).
“Suicide rates in WHO regions in Africa (11.2 per 100,000), Europe (10.5 per 100,000) and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100,000) were higher the world average (9.0 per 100,000) in 2019.
“The lowest suicide rate was in the Eastern Mediterranean region (6.4 per 100,000),” he said.
Globally, the suicide rate is declining, and in the Americas, it is increasing, according to the report.
He said suicide rates have declined in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate declining by 36%, with declines ranging from 17% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47% in the European Region. and 49% in the Region. the Western Pacific.
“But in the Americas region, rates increased 17% over the same period.
“Although some countries have made suicide prevention their top priority, too many countries remain disengaged; currently only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.
“A significant acceleration in suicide reduction is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of a one-third reduction in the global suicide rate by 2030.
The United Nations Health Agency has therefore expressed optimism that the new WHO guidelines on suicide would help the world meet the goal of reducing the suicide rate by a third by 2030.
“WHO’s advice on suicide prevention focuses on four strategies: limiting access to the means to commit suicide; educate the media on responsible reporting on suicides; promote socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and the early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
“The advice points out that in the age of social media, media reports can incite copycat suicides, especially when surrounding a celebrity.
“He calls for coverage of suicide to be thwarted by articles highlighting successful recovery from mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.
“He also recommends working with social media companies to raise awareness and remove harmful content,” he added.