September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day

Posted: 9/10/2013

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The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are co-sponsor World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. The theme of this 11th anniversary event is "Stigma: A Major Barrier for Suicide Prevention."

According to the WHO and the latest Burden of Disease Estimation, suicide is a major public health problem in high-income countries and is an emerging problem in low- and middle-income countries. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, especially among young people. Nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. These staggering figures do not include nonfatal suicide attempts which occur much more frequently than deaths by suicide.

A large proportion of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness. Recent estimates suggest that the disease burden caused by mental illnesses will account for 25% of the total disease burden in the world in the next two decades, making it the most important category of ill-health (more important than cancer or heart diseases). Yet a significant number of those with mental illnesses who die by suicide do not contact health or social services near the time of their death. In many instances there are insufficient services available to assist those in need at times of crisis.

This lack of access to appropriate care is one of the many factors that magnify the stigma associated with mental illness and with suicidal ideation and behaviour. This type of stigma, which is deeply rooted in most societies, can arise for different reasons. One of the causes of stigma is a simple lack of knowledge - that is, ignorance. This type of stigma can be directly addressed by providing a range of community-based educational programs that are targeted to specific subgroups within the society. The goal of such programs is to increase public awareness of the characteristics and treatment of people with mental illnesses and/or suicidal behaviour, and of the available treatment resources to help individuals with these problems.

For more resources, visit the IASP site.