According to the World Health Organization depression and suicide are significant problems throughout the world.
One million people die from suicide every year worldwide. This translates to one death every 40 seconds.
Over the past 45 years the WHO notes that suicide rates have increased by 60%. This is a worldwide increase. It is the leading cause of death for people in the age range of 15-44 years. It is the second leading cause of death for those in the 10-24 span of years.
The World Health Organization states that suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total disease global burden in 1998.
Suicide rates are on the increase worldwide for young people, in both developed and developing countries.
The major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America is mental disorders and in specific, depression and alcohol use disorders. In Asian countries impulsiveness was identified as a risk factor.
We know that suicide is a process, rather than an event. It is a complex continuum involving social, biological, cultural, and environmental factors.
Suicide prevention has not been addressed worldwide. There is a lack of education about suicide and prevention strategies. Taboo also exists worldwide, although for differing reasons, in discussing suicide openly. In North America there is still the belief, among many, that “if you talk about it, you are encouraging it.” We know that talking about mental health problems increases awareness and increased awareness leads to intervention and referrals to professionals.
Another obstacle to suicide prevention and intervention worldwide is the reliability of reporting and suicide certification. Many suicides are reported as accidents when they are not.
Suicide prevention required outside intervention from the health sector including medical and behavioral specialists trained to understand depression, suicide, risk factors, traumatic events, family factors, and the entire continuum that exists prior to a completed suicide. In addition, involvement from education, labor, police, justice, religion, law, politics, and the media is necessary in order for a campaign of prevention to be effective. This is a current challenge.
What Can You Do to Help?
Understand the warning signs of depression.
Understand the warning signs of trauma.
Pay attention to risk factors in a person’s environment and their family.
Understand that suicide exists on a continuum and is not a single event, but rather a series of events.
Offer your care, concern, and compassion.
A life cannot be replaced.
For more information on depression, suicide prevention, and tools please see the earlier blogs in Angst in Anxiety of suicide and depression. These were posted on 1-16-12, 1-20-12, and 1-22-12 under Angst in Anxiety at Psych Central.
Take care and be well.
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD