World Suicide Prevention Day: 'Suicide Is A Global Public Health Issue' Says WHO

“Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide."

Not enough countries are prioritising suicide prevention strategies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned, despite progress made in the past five years.

WHO said suicide is a “global public health issue” and called on governments around the world to do better.

Close to 800,000 people die by suicide each year. Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, WHO said the total number of countries with suicide prevention strategies, at just 38, is still far too few and governments need to commit to establishing them.

“Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide,” said WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. This has remained the same since 2014.

“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues. Yet suicides are preventable. We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.”

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Suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death worldwide, killing more people than malaria, breast cancer, war or homicide.

Data released by WHO showed that overall, rates of suicide appear to have fallen globally between 2010 and 2016. However this trend is not observed in all countries around the world.

Should the decline continue at its current rate, global targets to reduce suicide deaths will not be met, WHO said.

“Lives will be lost, while suicides are preventable,” reads the report.

While 79% of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate, at 11.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in high-income countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rate is more equal.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury.

WHO said key interventions that have shown success in reducing the number of suicides include:

:: Restricting access to means (including access to pesticides);

:: Educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide;

:: Implementing programmes among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses;

:: Early identification, management and follow-up of people at risk of suicide.

It called for further action globally alongside strengthening of existing suicide prevention efforts.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email:
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on