One million people take their own lives each year: WHO

Saturday, September 08, 2012
Sekhar Saxena
Director of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Suicide
while addressing reporters in Geneva
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Geneva: Each year, worldwide, approximately one million people die from suicide. That's around one death by suicide every 40 seconds. In the run up to World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising governments, international organizations, NGOs and local communities what measures they can take to try to prevent suicide.

Shekhar Saxena, Director of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Suicide Abuse told a press conference in Geneva, that the number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. He said "the figures are very high" as for every person who commits suicide there are "about ten, twenty times that number who attempt it." 

Saxena added that "the people who attempt it also suffer from serious physical as well as mental consequences."

The WHO official noted that suicidal behaviour can appear at any age although there is a very clear gender difference with, on average, about three male suicides for every female suicide.

He said "generally men complete suicide more often than women, although women attempt suicide more often than men." And in terms of age groups, "the incidents of completed suicide rises starting from early adulthood to middle age."

However, he added, "there is concern about an increasing number of suicides amongst young adults in recent times."

Saxena said "very often suicide is an impulsive behaviour against a background of stress" and can be averted "by reducing the availability of means to commit suicide."

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, the World Health Organization has produced a report, called "Public Health Action for the Prevention of Suicide" to help all sectors of society to play a part in combating suicide.
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