Creating Hope Through Action: Systematic National Responses
Every year, World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) serves as a reminder of the critical need to address the global suicide crisis. This annual event is currently on its 20th year, to disseminate the message that suicides are preventable. Established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), this day primarily aims to promote awareness about suicide and its prevention, reduce stigma surrounding suicidal behaviour, and unite people together for a common cause.
Suicide is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects individuals, families, and communities worldwide. The WHO’s estimate of more than 700,000 annual suicide deaths underscores the urgency of action to prevent these tragic losses. Beyond these losses, many more individuals struggle with suicidal thoughts and attempts, highlighting the need for effective prevention measures. Therefore, this day provides an opportunity to shed light on the significance of national suicide prevention strategies, the essential role of support services, and the value of national-level data collection in combating this silent epidemic.
National suicide prevention strategies are the foundation upon which comprehensive efforts are mobilised towards a specific objective i.e. suicide prevention. These strategies combine both community-based approaches and government policies as an evidence-based response to prevent suicide. They provide a roadmap for governments, healthcare systems, and communities to coordinate their actions and resources effectively. A well-designed national strategy involves collaboration among multiple sectors and helps to address the multifaceted factors contributing to suicide, including mental health issues, socioeconomic challenges, stigma, and access to lethal means. Currently, around 40 countries around the world have stand-alone suicide prevention strategies in place.
In addition to the national strategies, frontline support services play a pivotal role in suicide prevention. These services encompass crisis hotlines, counselling centres, mental health professionals, and community organizations. They act as lifelines for individuals in distress, offering immediate help, empathetic listening, and guidance to those in need. For many individuals, having a safe space to share their struggles can be a crucial step toward recovery. These services not only prevent immediate harm but also connect individuals with long-term resources for ongoing support. The provision of these services can be mapped out in the national suicide prevention strategies to coordinate national- and community-level efforts for suicide prevention.
Data collection on suicide at the national level is another indispensable tool for understanding the scope of the problem, identifying trends, and evaluating the effectiveness of prevention strategies. Accurate and comprehensive data provide valuable insights into risk factors, vulnerable populations, and potential interventions. By analysing this data, policymakers and healthcare professionals can tailor their strategies to address specific needs. Moreover, it enables the allocation of resources to areas with the highest prevalence of suicide, ensuring that interventions are targeted and impactful.
World Suicide Prevention Day serves as a powerful reminder that the global community must unite in the fight against suicide. The development of national suicide prevention strategies is an important course of action to saving lives and promoting mental well-being. We need to act now if we are to reduce the global suicide mortality rate by one third by 2030 as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030. By addressing this issue comprehensively, we can create hope through our collective actions so that every individual feels valued, supported, and understood.
To join the conversation and help spread awareness of suicide prevention, official hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, #WSPD2023, #BeTheLight, #CreatingHopeThroughAction or #WSPD can be used in social media messaging.
Get Involved: https://www.iasp.info/wspd/get-involved/
WSPD Resources: https://www.iasp.info/WSPD/resources/