WHO urges strengthening of protective factors against suicide

News release

On World Suicide Prevention Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls on its Member States in the Western Pacific to take firmer action to reduce the region's more than 600 suicides per day.

"Effective treatments exist, and people at risk – those with mental disorders and substance abuse problems – should receive professional attention and follow up," says WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo.

Every year, about 800 000 people die by their own hand. About 225 000 of these deaths – or more than a quarter of the worldwide total – occur in the Western Pacific Region. In some Western Pacific countries, suicide is among the 10 leading causes of death and one of the three leading causes among adolescents and young adults. Globally, six out of 10 suicide victims are under 45 years old.

The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 is: "Suicide prevention across the globe: strengthening protective factors and instilling hope." In the Western Pacific, the day is marked by several events: a candle lighting ceremony in the Philippines; the premiere of the documentary, "Saving 10 000 – Winning a War on Suicide in Japan"; a public forum in the Republic of Korea; and a community awareness campaign, a Walk for Hope and a bicycle ride against the stigma associated with suicide in Australia.

At the Seoul Forum on Suicide Prevention on 13 September, Dr Shin will encourage the adoption of good and effective suicide prevention practices. He will also urge Member States to train health-care providers in suicide prevention and to invest in mental health services and programmes to address existing gaps. The forum will take place on 13 and 14 September and be preceded by consultations with journalists on the role of the media in suicide prevention.

Protective factors against suicide include: helping at-risk individuals to become resilient in coping with adverse life events; instilling in them a sense of personal worth and confidence; and equipping them with effective coping and problem-solving skills and adaptive help-seeking behaviours. Protective factors also include, helping them to develop stronger spiritual and social ties to be more socially connected through supportive relationships, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle through good dietary and sleep habits and abstinence from tobacco and illicit drugs.

For more information, please contact:

Dino Subingsubing
Mental Health and Injury Prevention Unit
Tel. +63 2 528 9851
E-mail: subingsubingd@wpro.who.int