Today Is World Suicide Day

From Clement Adzei Boye, Takoradi


This year’s World Suicide Day is being celebrated on the theme: ‘Suicide prevention: One world connected.’

A statement signed  by the acting  president of  the United Nations Association (UNA), Ben Koning  and   copied  The Ghanaian  Times  to  mark  the  day  which  falls  today, said stigma, particularly surrounding  mental disorders and suicide had been two factors that had led some  people to  take their  own  lives or attempted to  do so,  instead  of seeking  help which  they do not   most   of the time get.

“The  prevention of suicide has  not been adequately addressed due to the lack  of awareness of suicide as a major  public health  problem, and the   taboo  in many societies to openly  discuss it.

To  date,only a few countries have  included suicide  prevention  in their health  priorities, and  only 28 countries report  having a  national suicide  prevention  strategy,” the  release  said.

The UNA group added that, raising awareness  and  breaking  taboos were  two  skills that could  be used  to  make  progress   in preventing suicide,  which  claimed  800,000  lives each year (that is- around  one person  every 40  seconds).

It noted that suicide  was  the fifth   leading  cause   of deaths among those aged  between 30 and 49  in  2012, globally,  and also,  the second leading cause  of deaths   in the ages between 15 and 29 years.

It was estimated  in 2012 that,  for each adult who  died  of suicide,  there  were over 20  others who   attempted suicide the release said, adding that, suicide accounted for 1.4  percent  of all  deaths worldwide, making  it the 15th  leading cause of death.

It said: “Every suicide is a tragedy that affects   families, communities and entire countries, and   has long-lasting effects on the people left behind.

“Suicide  is a complex  issue and therefore,  prevention efforts require co-ordination  and collaboration among  multiple sectors  of the society, including  the health sector and  other sectors such as   education, labour, agriculture, business , justice, law, defence, politics and the  media,” it added.

The statement said suicide behaviour was associated with conflicts, disasters, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation.

It noted that, the  condition rates were high  among vulnerable  groups who experienced discrimination, such as  refugees  and  migrants, indigenous  people, lesbians, gay, bisexual and  prisoners, adding  that, the strongest risk factor,  was a  previous  suicide attempt.

The UNA release again said, mental illness, particularly depression, was  an  important risk factor  for suicide,  adding that  although treatments for  mental illness had  improved, access to treatment, remained  unequal.

The challenge, it said,   included  the  inability  of  primary  health  care  providers to diagnose and treat mental illness, unavailability  of specialists, limited referrals  and the inability of  service providers to   provide  optimum care.

“In  the  WHO African Region, the estimated rate was close to the global average of 11.4   per  100,000  in 2012. Suicide rates are  particularly  high  among  the elderly, but  there  is also   a peak among the  young.  Again, suicide  by  intentional  pesticide ingestions is among the  most common methods  of  suicide  globally,and  of concern in rural agricultural areas  in the African Region,” the statement said.


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