Suicide prevention matters in humanitarian contexts too

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day (#WMHD2019), mental health promotion and suicide prevention, has allowed global advocates to create a unique momentum on suicide prevention campaigning. Promotional efforts have included sharing actionable knowledge, materials and lessons among inspiring initiatives and projects between World Suicide Prevention day, on the 10th of September, and World Mental Health Day (10th Oct).

The MHPSS Collaborative could only take this great opportunity to highlight the major impact that suicide has had on children and youth in humanitarian settings.

“Before IS, I had hopes and dreams, but now; nothing,” she said. “I never think about the future. We just live in the present and try to get through the days.”

  - Shaima Ali, 22, an assistant midwife in Sinouni, Iraq1

Our campaign, #5weeks5messages, was committed to present the most relevant information regarding suicide prevention and how it is impacting the younger populations within humanitarian settings. Each week, the information would focus on 5 different set of contents to aid the global community with the knowledge required for informed priority-setting, decision-making and action.


During the first week, we shared relevant information and figures (below) to introduce the audience to the bigger picture of how suicide is a major crisis globally, including the alarming evidence found that every 40 seconds someone dies due to suicide.

The evidence also highlights the how suicide is specifically affecting children and youth dramatically, a harsh reality that needs to be brought to the attention of all communities.

For the second week of the campaign, we attempted to bridge the need to bring the reality of suicide in humanitarian settings to the attention of global audiences. Difficult to identify due to several beliefs and to tackle due to lack of preparedness and planned procedures, this is a reality that the humanitarian sector must harness its collective power and cooperate on to address effectively.

  To reinforce this message, during week three we shared some voices and examples from communities affected from humanitarian crises (below).

The information shared to this point painted a realistic picture of the context and background of the issue. In week four, we wanted to highlight what organizations could do to prevent suicide, promote mental health and providing ideas around demystifying suicide.

Week five concludes the MHPSS Collaborative’s campaign to celebrate World Mental Health Day. This is also a time to honour our mandate of convening actors at all levels, by making this week’s message (below) about unity, cooperation, and amplifying the voices of many in support of suicide prevention.

We want to thank everybody for contributing and raising your voice.


  1. International Suicide Hotlines, IBPF [Here]
  2. Suicide Prevention Chat Online [Here]
  3. Suicide Stop, International Help Center [Here]
  4. Canada Suicide Prevention Service [Here]

1. The New Humanitarian, Uptick in suicides signals deepening mental health crisis for Iraq’s Yazidis (accessed 8th October 2019 [Link].

Middle East
Humanitarian and conflict health
Primary care
Prevention and promotion
Detection and diagnosis
Treatment, care and rehabilitation
Training, education and capacity building
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