WHO Preventing suicide: a community engagement toolkit Pilot version 1.0 (2016)
Suicide is a global health issue
Over 800 000 people die due to suicide each year, and it is the second leading cause of death in 15 - 29 year olds. Indications suggest that for every adult who died of suicide, there may be more than 20 others attempting suicide. The impact of suicide on the families and friends and wider communities can be devastating. Often, the stigma that is attached to suicide means that people feel unable to seek help. Psychological, social, cultural and other factors can interact and lead a person to suicidal behavior.
The majority of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries where, if services do exist, are often limited and unable to provide comprehensive early intervention, treatment and support of people in crisis.
Communities can play a vital role in suicide prevention
This resource recognizes the critical role communities can play in suicide prevention. Communities are able to provide support to vulnerable individuals, provide important follow-up care, tackle stigma and support those who have been bereaved by suicide. Communities can give individuals a sense of belonging and connectedness to others which may be an important factor in preventing suicide. They can also implement specific suicide prevention strategies that are relevant to them.
The World Health Organization has worked collaboratively with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to adapt this participatory approach for global use. This toolkit is a step-by-step guide for communities to engage in suicide prevention activities, whilst keeping ownership of the process and keeping efforts sustained. It is not a manual for initiating specific interventions but describes a bottom-up process by which communities identify, prioritize and implement activities that are important and appropriate to their context, and can influence and shape policy and services.
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