Suicide prevention should be a national priority

12Jan 2020
Editor
The Guardian
Suicide prevention should be a national priority

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors.

Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, relationship problems such as breakups, or bullying.  Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; careful media reporting about suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, they have not been well studied.  

The most commonly used method of suicide varies between countries, and is partly related to the availability of effective means.  Common methods of suicide include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms.  Suicides resulted in 828,000 global deaths in 2015, an increase from 712,000 deaths in 1990.  This makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death worldwide.  

Approximately 0.5 per cent of people die by suicide.  In a given year this is roughly 12 per 100,000 people.  Rates of completed suicides are generally higher among men than among women, ranging from 1.5 times as much in the developing world to 3.5 times in the developed world.  Suicide is generally most common among those over the age of 70; however, in certain countries, those aged between 15 and 30 are at the highest risk. Europe had the highest rates of suicide by region in 2015.  There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. Non-fatal suicide attempts may lead to injury and long-term disabilities.  In the Western world, attempts are more common among young people and among females.  

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, relationship problems such as breakups, or bullying.  Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts.  Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; careful media reporting about suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, they have not been well studied.  

The most commonly used method of suicide varies between countries, and is partly related to the availability of effective means.  Common methods of suicide include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms.  Suicides resulted in 828,000 global deaths in 2015, an increase from 712,000 deaths in 1990.  This makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death worldwide.  

Approximately 0.5 per cent of people die by suicide.  In a given year this is roughly 12 per 100,000 people.  Rates of completed suicides are generally higher among men than among women, ranging from 1.5 times as much in the developing world to 3.5 times in the developed world.  Suicide is generally most common among those over the age of 70; however, in certain countries, those aged between 15 and 30 are at the highest risk. Europe had the highest rates of suicide by region in 2015.  There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. Non-fatal suicide attempts may lead to injury and long-term disabilities.  In the Western world, attempts are more common among young people and among females.  

The Young Lives Matter Foundation at The University of Western Australia has received $100,000 in community grants to support research to help understand and prevent youth suicide.

The task of understanding who is most vulnerable and when they are most at risk requires intensive research.

UWA Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Andrew Page said that understanding suicide triggers was often difficult because they were complex and varied between individuals, and that research to understand the issues at play was critical.

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