One in 100 deaths are due to suicide. The World Health Organization in June released new guidance for implementing the WHO’s LIVE LIFE interventions for suicide prevention. The guidance will aide the Agenda 2030 aim to reduce global suicide rates by one-third.
Some facts about suicide:
- Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence.
- Every year, more people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer or war and homicide.
- In 2019, more than 700,000 people died by suicide. This is one in 100 deaths.
- More than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100,000 males compared with 5.4 per 100,000 females).
- Suicide rates fell in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate decreasing by 36%, with decreases ranging from 17% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47% in the European Region and 49% in the Western Pacific.
- But in the Americas Region, rates increased by 17% in the same time period.
The fours strategies in the LIVE LIFE approach are:
- Limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms;
- Educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide;
- Fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and
- Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Scientific evidence suggests that alcohol use is linked with increased suicide risk. One study published in The Lancet found, teenagers who frequently binge on alcohol are more likely to die by suicide in their 20s. Another study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found alcohol use disorder to be strongly linked to increased suicide risk.
The COVID-19 pandemic and it’s consequences of isolation, job loss, pay cuts, uncertainty of future are all risks for suicide. In the United States, researchers have predicted COVID-19 could lead to a rise in deaths of despair. These are deaths occurring from suicide, alcohol and other drug problems.
It is now more than ever, necessary to increase action on preventing suicides. The Who LIVE LIFE interventions can help countries to save lives.
We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months living with the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide ̶ job loss, financial stress and social isolation – still very much present. The new guidance that WHO is releasing today provides a clear path for stepping up suicide prevention efforts.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization