The World Health Organisation, WHO, says global suicide rates have decreased over the past few years but one person still takes his or her life every 40 seconds somewhere around the world.
Director General of the organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made this known in a statement on Monday ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, September 10, warning that too few countries had prevention strategies in place.
According to Ghebreyesus, only 38 countries currently had national suicide prevention strategies.
“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues, yet suicides are preventable.
“We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way,” he added.
Steps that have been proven to be effective include educating media about reporting responsibly about suicides; building young people’s skills to cope with stress; helping at-risk people; and curbing access to dangers, such as pesticides.
According to WHO data, some 800,000 people die every year from suicide, with more than three-quarters of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.
WHO noted that pesticide bans in Sri Lanka reduced suicides by 70 per cent between 1995 and 2015.
Pesticide poisoning is the second most common method of suicide, according to WHO, accounting for as many as one in five of the world’s suicides.
In South Korea, a similar policy halved suicide deaths between 2011 and 2013.
Europe is disproportionately affected, with an average of 13 per 100,000 people dying by suicide in 2016 – higher than the global average of 10.5 per 100,000.
But there are wide disparities across the continent.
Greece and Finland both recorded 3.8 suicide deaths per 100,000 population in 2016 — the lowest rate on the continent.
Cyprus and Italy rounded out the bottom three with respective rates of 4.5 and 5.5 per 100,000.
Some Eastern European countries, however, had rates more than double the global average.
The worst-hit countries were Russia (26.5 per 100,000), Lithuania (25.7 per 100,000) and Belarus (21.4 per 100,000).
Belgium, France, and Ireland have the highest suicide rates in western Europe, with rates of 15.7, 12.1 and 10.9 per 100,000 respectively.
The global suicide rate fell by 9.8 per cent to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people between 2000 and 2016, the agency said, citing the latest available data.
The Americas were the only world region with an increasing suicide trend during that period.
Taking one’s own life is the second leading cause of death for youths and young people between 15 and 29, following road accidents, according to the WHO.
Data shows that suicide disproportionately affects men, with nearly three times as many men as women dying by suicide in high-income countries.
Equal numbers of men and women take their own lives in low and middle-income countries.
WHO also flagged that for every person who dies by suicide around 20 people make suicide attempts.
Their survival largely depends on the availability of intensive care facilities and effective treatments for some poisons.
It also sought to dispel a number of “common myths” including the wrongly held belief that those who are determined to take their lives will do so eventually.
“Research shows that while a previous suicide attempt is a strong risk factor for suicide, most people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide, or even make a repeat attempt. If they survive, they usually go on to lead productive lives,” it highlighted.