World Suicide Prevention Day 2022
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), celebrated annually on 10 September, is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The event represents a global commitment to focus attention on suicide prevention.
The theme of WSPD 2022, “Creating hope through action,” reflects the need for collective, action to address this urgent public health issue. All of us- family members, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, political officials and governments- can take action to prevent suicide in the Region.
The overall goal of this day is to raise awareness about suicide prevention worldwide. Objectives include promoting stakeholder collaboration and self-empowerment to address self-harm and suicide through preventative action. These can be achieved through capacity building of healthcare providers and other relevant actors, positive and informative messaging aimed at the general population and at-risk groups such as young people, and facilitating open discussion on mental health at home, at school, in the workplace, etc. Those contemplating or affected by suicide are also encouraged to share their stories and seek professional help.
In 2019, 97,339 people died by suicide in the Region of the Americas, and it is estimated that 20 times that number may have made suicide attempts.
Hope Through Action
Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts not only individuals, but also families, communities and societies. Associated risk factors for suicide, such as job or financial loss, trauma or abuse, mental and substance use disorders, and barriers to accessing health care, have been further amplified by COVID-19. One year after the pandemic’s onset, more than half of people surveyed in Chile, Brazil, Peru and Canada reported that their mental health had gotten worse.
Suicide can be prevented, however. Key evidence-based suicide prevention measures include restricting access to means for suicide (e.g. firearms, pesticides, etc.), mental health and alcohol reduction policies, and promoting responsible media reporting on suicide. Social stigma and a lack of awareness remain major barriers to help-seeking for suicide, highlighting the need for mental health literacy and anti-stigma campaigns.