Fighting Suicide: A Global Call to Create Hope Through Action

On the 10th of September every year, the global community observes World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an annual report reveals a distressing statistic: approximately 700,000 individuals succumb to suicide each year.

Suicide poses a profound challenge to human existence, engendering adverse repercussions on both personal well-being and financial stability. The ripple effects of suicide extend to the familial sphere, causing substantial upheaval. Alarmingly, Africa registers the highest incidence of suicides among all continents, as per the WHO’s findings.

The theme “Creating Hope Through Action” has been the central message of World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 to 2023. This theme serves as a compelling call to mobilize and emphasizes that there exist alternatives to suicide. Through our collective actions, we can kindle hope and bolster prevention efforts.

By promoting hope through proactive measures, we signal to individuals grappling with suicidal thoughts that there is hope and a caring support network available. It underscores the notion that our actions, irrespective of their scale, can provide solace to those battling despair.

Annually, 703,000 lives are tragically lost to suicide, with countless others attempting it. Each suicide is a heart-wrenching tragedy that reverberates through families, communities, and entire nations, leaving enduring scars. In 2019, suicide stood as the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds worldwide.

Notably, suicide is not confined to affluent nations but is a global phenomenon spanning all corners of the world. In 2019, over 77% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Suicide represents a grave public health crisis, yet it is preventable through timely, evidence-based, and often cost-effective interventions. Effective national responses necessitate comprehensive, cross-sectoral strategies for suicide prevention.

While the link between suicide and mental disorders, especially depression and alcohol use disorders, is well-established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively during moments of crisis, when individuals struggle to cope with life’s stresses, such as financial woes, relationship breakdowns, or chronic pain and illness.

Moreover, experiences like conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, loss, and isolation are strongly linked to suicidal behavior. Vulnerable groups, including refugees, migrants, indigenous populations, LGBTI individuals, and prisoners, face disproportionately high suicide rates, often exacerbated by discrimination.

Roughly 20% of global suicides result from pesticide self-poisoning, predominantly in rural agricultural regions of low- and middle-income countries. Hanging and firearm use are also prevalent methods of suicide.

Understanding the most common suicide methods is crucial for devising effective prevention strategies, such as restricting access to means of suicide, as emphasized in the “LIVE LIFE” suicide prevention guide.

Ultimately, this underscores the urgency of suicide prevention as a public health imperative, necessitating concerted action to diminish suicide mortality rates. WHO remains committed to collaborating with partners in supporting nations in taking concrete steps in this direction.

World Suicide Prevention Day, established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in partnership with WHO, falls on the 10th of September each year. Its primary objectives are to shine a spotlight on the issue, diminish stigma, and raise awareness across organizations, governments, and the general public, delivering a clear message that suicides are preventable.

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