Accessibility / Report Error

Weighing the evidence for suicide prevention

We are pleased note that, in early September 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the first global report on suicide prevention, entitled Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Notably, this report states that the annual age-standardized suicide rate is 11 per 100,000 people, and that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15–29 years.11. World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: WHO; 2014.

Of all suicides, 75% occur in developing countries.11. World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: WHO; 2014. This is especially important because WHO mentions that developing countries do not have an adequate system of registration for reporting of deaths by suicide, and that suicide accounts for 56% of violent deaths globally.11. World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: WHO; 2014.

Suicide is a global public health problem for which preventive interventions are available, both at the individual level,22. Mann JJ, Apter A, Bertolote J, Beautrais A, Currier D, Haas A, et al. Suicide prevention strategies: a systematic review. JAMA. 2005;294:2064–74.,33. Matsubayashi T, Ueda M. The effect of national suicide prevention programs on suicide rates in 21 OECD nations. Soc Sci Med. 2011;73:1395–400. e.g., by assessment and management of mental health problems, including tracking people with suicidal intent, and at the community level,44. Fountoulakis KN, Gonda X, Rihmer Z. Suicide prevention programs through community intervention. J Affect Disord. 2011;130:10–6.,55. Wasserman D, Hoven CW, Waserman C, Wall M, Eisenberg R, Hadlaczky G, et al. School-based suicide prevention programmes: the SEYLE cluster-randomised, controlled trial. Lancet. 2015;385:1536–44. by restricting access to means of suicide and reducing harmful alcohol consumption.22. Mann JJ, Apter A, Bertolote J, Beautrais A, Currier D, Haas A, et al. Suicide prevention strategies: a systematic review. JAMA. 2005;294:2064–74. WHO notes that prevention plans in countries must be comprehensive and adopt an approach with predetermined parameters, but be flexible and adaptable to the culture and society which they address.11. World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: WHO; 2014.

While various interventions to prevent suicide are mentioned in the report, the level of evidence for each of these interventions is not very clear. In developing countries, where the health sector lacks the resources needed to implement several of these suggested interventions, it is imperative to prioritize and choose the best and most cost-effective measures.

In conclusion, we consider the WHO report to be a very important tool both to know the position of suicide worldwide and to explain the variety of interventions that can be employed to help prevent it. While interventions are recommended, we believe it might be more helpful if each intervention had an evidence level that could help decision-makers prioritize.

References

  • 1
    World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: WHO; 2014.
  • 2
    Mann JJ, Apter A, Bertolote J, Beautrais A, Currier D, Haas A, et al. Suicide prevention strategies: a systematic review. JAMA. 2005;294:2064–74.
  • 3
    Matsubayashi T, Ueda M. The effect of national suicide prevention programs on suicide rates in 21 OECD nations. Soc Sci Med. 2011;73:1395–400.
  • 4
    Fountoulakis KN, Gonda X, Rihmer Z. Suicide prevention programs through community intervention. J Affect Disord. 2011;130:10–6.
  • 5
    Wasserman D, Hoven CW, Waserman C, Wall M, Eisenberg R, Hadlaczky G, et al. School-based suicide prevention programmes: the SEYLE cluster-randomised, controlled trial. Lancet. 2015;385:1536–44.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Sept 2015

History

  • Received
    17 Feb 2015
  • Accepted
    26 Feb 2015
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