Prevention is better than cure.
Once it’s happened, suicide has no cure. In fact it can set off another wave of deep grief and vulnerability to further suicides.
Hence, prevention is everything.
The World Health Organisation has declared Thursday the 10th of September as World Suicide Prevention Day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness and break down stigma. Here are the main subheadings of the WHO document :
- to those at risk of suicide
- to those bereaved by suicide
- to put people in touch with relevant services
- to Suicide Prevention community.
Research suggests that 70 to 90 per cent of people who have made a lethal attempt, or died by suicide, were suffering from one or more unmanaged mental health issues – such as protracted depression or anxiety, bi-polarity, psychosis, and/or substance abuse. The presence of an unmanaged mental health issue is strongly associated with suicide.
Hence I would like to emphasise a few things here:
- Health-care services need to incorporate suicide prevention as a core component.
- Early identification and effective management of mental disorders and harmful use of alcohol and other drugs are key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.
- Close involvement, training and support for family and carers in the community.
- Education at every level – at schools, universities, religious communities, railway staff and general public.
- Give the issue of Suicide Prevention a place of prominence on the Public Health agenda as it is one of the biggest killers. Not limiting suicide prevention to writing documents that no one ever reads but making a proper awareness campaign which brings the issue to light in a way that everyone can see it – in the same way that road safety is addressed.
- Ensure that governments are fully engaged and every Local Authority has an effective Suicide Prevention Plan in place.
- Abolish internet chat rooms which help people with creative ideas on how to end their own lives.
- Stop under-recording the incidence of suicide at Coroner’s courts by not insisting on ‘criminal’ standard of proof as opposed to balance of probability.
While it may not be possible to prevent all suicides, let us do this like we mean it.
Every life lost through suicide is one too many.