BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Suicide and the Media: A global Health Concern



The World Health Organization identifies and recognizes suicide as a major public health problem to which about 800,000 deaths is attributed worldwide, annually. For each of these individuals who take their lives, there are much more people who attempt suicide. Among adolescents and young adults aged 15-29 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2015. Suicide is a global phenomenon which occurs in every country and region of the world with its most significant predisposing factor being a previous failed attempt. Despite being mostly associated with high-income countries, approximately 78% of global suicides in 2015 occurred in low- and middle-income countries. The most common methods of suicide around the world are ingestion of pesticides, hanging and use of firearms. In fact, up to 30% of global suicides happen by the use of pesticide to poison oneself, especially in rural agricultural areas where these chemicals are easily accessible.

Suicide, like every loss and death, is a tragedy that affects families, friends, communities and countries at large. It leaves many questions and long-lasting effects on the people left behind. People commit suicide for many different reasons. There is a well-established link between suicide and mental health disorders such as depression and drug or alcohol misuse. In addition, many suicides happen in moments of crisis, pain and thoughtlessness when people feel overwhelmed, swamped and unable to carry on with life. Loss of loved one, failure in the ability to deal with life stresses, financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness are some of the many reasons why people have taken their own lives, with hopes to leave it all behind. Furthermore, factors such as war, conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, meltdown, failure, loss, discrimination, loneliness and isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior. Rates of suicide are highest amongst vulnerable groups who are more likely to experience the above situations such as refugees and migrants; persons who are perceived as different for any reason and prisoners.

It is important to note that suicides can be prevented using well-timed, evidence-based and effective interventions. To ensure the reduction of suicide rates globally, national suicide prevention strategies must be comprehensive, multi-dimensional, efficient and sustainable. Being a complex problem, understanding the most common reasons for suicide as well as the common suicide methods are important for developing effective prevention strategies. The following are measures that can be taken at population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts:

  • Regulating access to suicide aids such as pesticides and firearms
  • Establishing drug and alcohol policies to reduce misuse
  • Support, follow-up and care for people who have attempted suicide
  • Training health workers to effectively assess and manage suicidal behavior
  • Promoting awareness to erase stigma surrounding depression, mental illness and suicide so as to enable people seek help without shame and prejudice
  • Identifying, treating and caring for people with mental health problems, substance use disorders, chronic pain and emotional distress

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