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Suicide cases on the rise, WHO raises alarm


World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised the alarm that suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide.

A report, “Suicide worldwide in 2019”, published on Thursday found that more people die yearly as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer, war and murder.

In 2019, WHO revealed, more than 700,000 people died by suicide – one in every 100 deaths.

Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis, and interpersonal violence.

Rates vary between countries and genders. More than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100, 000 males compared with 5.4 per 100 000 females).

Suicide is higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100, 000). For females, the highest rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100, 000).

Africa (11.2 per 100, 000), European (10.5 per 100, 000), and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100, 000) regions were higher than the global average (9.0 per 100, 000) in 2019.

“We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide. Each one is a tragedy”, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General stated.

Ghebreyesus said the body’s attention to suicide prevention is more important now due to effects of COVID-19 including job loss, financial stress and social isolation.

The WHO observed some countries have made suicide prevention high a priority while many others remain uncommitted.

Only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy and the UN health agency hopes its new guidance would reduce the rate.

The guidance provides four strategies: limiting access to the means of suicide; educating the media on responsible suicide reporting; fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of those with suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

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