Last night, the World Health Organisation launched the first ever World Suicide Report.* Suicide prevention is a global imperative and, while some of this information may be known by those in working in the sector, this is the first time we are seeing a full and transparent picture of global efforts to reduce suicide.
We would like to commend the World Health Organisation and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention led by Professor Diego De Leo on developing the report and giving us a tool to place suicide prevention firmly on the global agenda.
As I started the reading the report, I was struck first by the numbers when you look at the lives tragically lost on a global scale. Did you know that every year, over 800 000 people in the world die from suicide? This roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds. One every 40 seconds! That is more lives lost each year than the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.
That is just staggering and makes me as SPA CEO, and Convenor of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, even more passionate about doing the work we need to do to make a meaningful reduction to number of deaths by suicide.
There is good news coming out of the World Suicide Report. The good news is that around the world suicide prevention is becoming a high priority on country agendas. There are lessons we can learn from a number of countries ranging from strategy development to evidence based programs to reduce suicide. In Australia, we are proud to have been recognised as leaders in a number of areas such as the media reporting guidelines and reducing access to means for suicide such as firearms through legislation changes.
But, as a high income developed nation, it is already clear from my first read of the report that there are a number of areas for improvement.
On World Suicide Prevention Day (next Wednesday 10 September), the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention will be holding a free online forum to discuss the World Suicide Report; what we are doing well and what needs work. If you’d like to join that discussion, hosted by news icon Mike Munro and featuring expert panellists from across the country, register your interest today. http://www2.redbackconferencing.com.au/WSPDWebcast
This is the start of a discussion that I hope will result in tangible change for how we prevent suicide in this country. I look forward to (virtually) welcoming you to the debate next week.
*The full WHO World Suicide Report can be found here – http://www.who.int/topics/suicide/en/