Health

COVID-19 increasing rate of suicide, WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic was increasing the rate of suicide around the world.

The global health body gave the warning through its Americas office ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day, commemorated annually on September 10.

Urging countries to treat suicide prevention as a “national priority”, the WHO said increasing suicide rate was becoming “an urgent public health problem.”

According to Renato Oliveira e Souza, head of the Mental Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), to end these deaths and provide care, stakeholders must offer “concrete actions,” while governments “invest in a comprehensive national strategy.”

Studies show that the global crisis has exacerbated risk factors associated with suicidal behaviours, such as job loss, trauma or abuse, mental health disorders and barriers to accessing health care.

Globally, one in 100 deaths is by suicide, making it among the leading causes of death worldwide and the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds, after road traffic accidents, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence.

More people die each year from suicide than from HIV, malaria, or breast cancer, or from war and homicide, according to WHO.

Organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and endorsed by WHO, the theme of the 2021 World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Creating hope through action’.

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