Every suicide is a tragedy. It affects loved ones, and communities, and has a long-lasting effect on the people left behind.
World Suicide Prevention Day, observed annually on September 10, aims to raise awareness of suicide and to promote preventative measures with the aim to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.
Suicides in the region of the Americas account for (2019) 97,339 deaths, 74,918 in men, and 22,421 in women. The number of deaths from suicide increased 56%, from 62,401 deaths in 2000 to 97,339 deaths in 2019. As the third-highest leading cause of death among young people aged 20 to 24 in the Americas, it continues to be a public health concern of critical importance.
Stigma, myths, and taboos surround suicides. To counter this, it is of utmost importance that countries work to raise awareness that suicide is preventable and improve education about this serious public health problem. This year’s theme “Creating Hope Through Action” underscores the need to empower and equip people with the skills and confidence to connect with someone they think may be struggling. Suicide is a global concern, a community concern, a personal concern. It is a call for everyone to work together to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatized; that we can reach out and offer a shoulder to someone in need without criticising.
People aged 45-59 have the highest suicide rate in the Region, followed by those aged 70 and older. Evidence indicates that three of CARPHA Member States are in the top 20% of countries with high suicide mortality (over 10.0 deaths per 100,000 people), namely Guyana: 40.8 deaths per 100,000 population, Suriname: 25.9 deaths per 100,000 population, and Haiti: 11.2 deaths per 100,000 population.
Studies show the most frequent methods used for suicides are suffocation, firearms, poisoning with drugs and alcohol, and poisoning with pesticides and chemicals, accounting for 91% of all suicides in the Region.
We can prevent self-harm and suicide by facilitating open discussions on mental health at home, school and the workplace. Governments can ensure that health care workers receive suitable training to identify, assess, manage and follow up anyone as early as possible, who is affected by suicidal behaviours. Civil society, faith-based organisations and private sector and community-based organisations can support and promote good mental health.
Suicide is preventable. Let us take action now to prevent suicides in the Region. Let us connect with someone who may be considering suicide … Today.