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Author Mohammed Aruf Yasin Category: Dated:July 5th, 2018

One Person Dies Every 40 Seconds Due to Suicide

Every 40 seconds someone dies due to suicide and many more attempt suicide. Close to 800,000 people die every year due to suicide. Anyone anywhere can become its victim. World Health Organisation World Suicide Report calls upon individuals, communities and countries to act now. Suicides are preventable, however:

  • It is the leading cause of death amongst 15 – 29 year old globally (but it can happen at any age);
  • It was the 17th leading cause of death in 2015, amounting to 1.4% of all deaths worldwide;
  • In 2015, approximately 78% of suicide occurred in low- and middle-income countries;
  • For every reported case of suicide, there may be more than 20 other unreported cases of attempts.

Age standardized suicide rates - 2015, (c) WHO

With a 30% increase since 1999, The United States of America alone has lost nearly 45,000 lives to suicide in 2016. It is important to know and to understand the warning signs for self-harm. Besides these below-mentioned signs, POLHN also offers a free online mental health course for healthcare workers, professionals and communities members at large.

The 12 Suicide Warning SignsFactors Contribute to Suicide

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

Around 30% of suicides in the world are due to pesticide self-poisoning. Removing access to means of suicide is an effective method of prevention. Establishment and implementation of effective strategies like controlling use and dissemination of pesticides, firearms and certain medications can help with suicide prevention. Early identification and effective management by health workers is a key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.

What Can We Do To Prevent Suicide?

  • Preventing suicide involves everyone in the community.
  • Strengthen access to and delivery of care.
    • Establish support system; phone, online, peers, colleagues, and religious centres.
  • Create protective environments.
    • Establish a healthy office, stigma-free culture, and supportive policies.
  • Connect people within their communities.
    • Create events and social gathering to empower youth and vulnerable.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills.
    • Introduce related curriculum, support mechanism and risk identification at school.
  • Prevent future risk.
    • Introduce multisectoral approach to minimize media sensitized headlines
  • Identify and support people at risk.

Everyone can learn the signs of suicide, how to respond, and where to access help. Learning can be structured through an online mental health course. Suicides are preventable and everyone can play a role. This can be a family member, friend or colleague who listens closely or encourages help-seeking, a health worker who openly asks about suicidal thoughts or previous attempts, the community who identifies people at risk and provides support. It can also be a policymaker who takes leadership and brings different stakeholders together. They can all provide social support to vulnerable individuals and engage in follow-up care, fight stigma, and support those bereaved by suicide.

5 Steps to help someone at risk

  1. Ask.
  2. Keep them safe.
  3. Be there.
  4. Help them connect.
  5. Follow up


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