The course seeks to improve the identification, evaluation, management and monitoring of suicidal behavior in order to prevent suicide and save lives

Washington D.C. 7 September 2018 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will launch a virtual course, Preventing self-harm/suicide: Empowering primary healthcare providers, in celebration of World Suicide Prevention Day, which will take place on 10 September.

Around 100,000 people commit suicide each year in the Americas, and it is estimated that for each suicide that occurs, there are more than 20 attempts. Suicide can occur at any age and it is the third highest cause of death among young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in the region.

The course, which is free, self-directed and available in English on PAHO’s Virtual Campus for Public Health, seeks to strengthen the capacities of primary healthcare professionals in identifying, evaluating and improving the approach towards suicidal behaviors in patients. Interested parties can access the course from 17 September when the platform is made available to the general public.

“Suicide can be prevented and primary healthcare personnel have an important role to play in the prevention, early detection and management of suicidal behavior,” said Claudina Cayetano, Regional Advisor on Mental Health at PAHO.

It is estimated that most people who commit suicide visit a primary healthcare provider one month before their death. This means that “the early detection of people with suicidal behavior, and the effective management of this is essential to ensuring they receive the timely care they require,” added Cayetano.

The course is divided into seven modules and is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intervention Guide for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders (mhGAP-IG). This guide includes evidence-based interventions to identify and manage priority mental health disorders including self-inflicted injuries and suicide at the first level of health care.

Introduction to self-harm and suicide, clinical presentations, the assessment, monitoring and prevention strategies are some of the topics to be addressed during the online training.

Knowledge about suicidal behavior has increased exponentially in recent decades yet suicide continues to be a low priority when it comes to public health actions. It is expected that the new course will lead to more health personnel in the region that are trained in the early identification of mental health problems and in the prevention of suicide.

Virtual seminar on suicide prevention

On World Suicide Prevention Day, which will take place on Monday 10 September at 10:00 a.m. (Washington D.C. time), PAHO will hold a virtual seminar to launch the new course on the prevention of self-harm and suicide. The course will be available in English on 17 September, and later in Spanish. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate from PAHO.

To learn more about the webinar on the course on suicide prevention, visit here.

Access to the virtual course

Virtual course on self-harm/suicide prevention: Empowering Primary Health Care providers