WHO sounds alarm over suicides globally

September 10, 2012 2:32 pm
The UN health body called on governments to conduct a situation analysis to identify the extent of the problem with a view of addressing it/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday urged governments to develop a national suicide prevention strategy as the world marked the World Suicide Prevention Day.

The UN health body called on governments to conduct a situation analysis to identify the extent of the problem with a view of addressing it.

Through a statement published on its website, WHO urged authorities to identify risk factors and address concerns surrounding stigma associated with suicide.

“Every year almost one million people die by suicide around the world and it remains a significant social and public health problem. Worldwide, suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among those aged between 15 and 44,” read the statement.

WHO Assistant Director-General for Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Oleg Chestnov added that suicide was a condition that needed priority intervention as it would contribute more than two percent to the global burden of disease by the year 2020.

“In 1998 suicide constituted 1.8 percent of the total disease burden and this is estimated to rise to 2.4 percent by 2020. With a disproportionate impact on the world’s youth we owe it to future generations to act now,” he said.

The World Health Organisation also indicated that an average of 3,000 people commit suicide every day.

“For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives,” noted WHO on their website.

In July, the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) reported about 100 suicide attempt cases of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 in a period of two months.

The hospital also expressed concern at the rise in suicidal cases among university students.

“Majority are from Nairobi University; they are the ones that have tendencies to commit suicide. Others are from USIU (United States International University), Daystar University and Kenyatta University,” noted Elizabeth Mwavisa, a KNH Psychological Counsellor, in an interview with Capital FM News in July.

Chestnov also cited the brunt that economies would suffer in the long run if suicide cases were not curbed, noting that most victims were in the economically productive age group.

“Suicide impacts the most vulnerable of the world’s populations and places a huge burden on low and middle income countries which are often ill equipped to meet the general health and mental health of their populations,” he noted.

He further urged governments not to hide behind lack of resources in the fight against suicide, which has also been identified as a priority condition in Mental Health Gap Action Programme.

He cited the need to make a budgetary allocation specifically targeting suicidal cases.

“Since suicide is largely preventable it is imperative that governments invest human and financial resources in suicide prevention,” read a document posted on WHO website.

The organisation also noted the need for political commitment in the fight against suicide. WHO listed family history of suicide, drug abuse, mental disorders, stress and negative influence as some of the risk factors.

According to WHO, Lithuania and South Korea top the list of countries with the highest suicide rates.


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