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World Mental Health Day

This topic provides information related to World Mental Health Day.

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health. The day is celebrated at the initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and is supported by World Health Organisation and its partner institutions through raising awareness on mental health issues. World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992.

World Mental Health Day 2019

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019 is "Focus on prevention".

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. This year the theme of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.

Facts on Suicide

  • Suicides are preventable.
  • Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.
  • For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.
  • 79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

Suicide is a serious public health problem; however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multisectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed.

Who is at risk?

While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners. By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

Prevention and control

Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include:

  • reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
  • reporting by media in a responsible way;
  • school-based interventions;
  • introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
  • early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
  • training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour;
  • follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.

Suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide.

Source : WHO

Related resources

  1. Working together to prevent suicides
  2. Suicide prevention
  3. Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents
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