WHO suicide report: ‘a truly global phenomenon’

(SOURCE)  One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds around the world, the World Health Organization says in a new report that finds few countries have specific policies focused on preventing suicide.

In its first-ever global report on suicide prevention, the World Health Organization says it’s a serious public health issue that could be alleviated if more countries developed national suicide prevention plans.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, WHO’s director of mental health and substance abuse, notes that only 28 countries currently have national strategies.

“We believe that every country, whether their suicide rates are high or low, should still be thinking about it and planning for it in a meticulous way involving not only the health sector,” he told CTV’s Canada AM from Geneva.

Saxena says there is a general misconception that suicide is a problem mostly found in rich countries. The WHO’s new report shows this is not true; in fact, 75 per cent of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In low-income countries, elderly women have higher rates of suicide than their counterparts in high-income countries. In richer countries, three times as many men die by suicide than women.

Globally, suicide rates are highest in people over the age of 70. But in some countries, the highest rates are found among the young. Globally, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.

Saxena says, even in the world’s poor countries, it’s the poorest segments of society that are at the highest risk of committing suicide.

“So suicide is a truly global phenomenon and the solution can be global,” he said.

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