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World Mental Health Day 2019: Suicide Prevention Awareness

CARTA joins the world to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10. The day aims to shed light on mental health issues on both a broad-scale as well as the community and individual level.

This year’s World Mental Health Day is focused on raising awareness around suicide prevention, recognizing that every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury. Among teenagers aged 15-19 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death among girls (after maternal conditions) and the third leading cause of death in boys (after road injury and interpersonal violence), shows the World Health Organisation.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says“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.”

While at least four in five of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate, at 11.5 per 100 000. Nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in high-income countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rate is more equal, shows the WHO.

Our Cohort Four Fellow and graduate Boladale Mapayi from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria says suicide in low and middle-income countries is due to a number of factors.

“Adverse childhood experiences, violence, and abuse of all forms (including sexual harassment and violence), low self-esteem, abuse of psychoactive substances, chronic physical illnesses, sexual and ethnic minority status, reduced ability to negotiate interpersonal relationships are some of the factors associated with depression. Early intervention is key to preventing complications like suicide,”

She adds that “many young people are distressed by suicidal thoughts and some have attempted suicide multiple times. There is a need to create an atmosphere that engenders help-seeking and resources to improve resilience in them.”

Although suicide is preventable, countries like Nigeria continue to criminalize suicide, making survivors liable to imprisonment, Mapayi shares.

“Government need to be committed to passing the Mental Health Bill so that we can implement effective solutions to the problem of suicide in Nigeria,” the mental health expert with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from OAU adds.

The most common methods of suicide are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning, and firearms. Key interventions that have shown success in reducing suicides are restricting access to means; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; implementing programs among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses; and early identification, management and follow-up of people at risk of suicide.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. This year, the WHO, in collaboration with global partners, the World Federation for Mental Health, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Mental Health, launched the 40 seconds of action campaign.

Written by Eunice Kilonzo, CARTA Communications Officer

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