The global Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020) and the launch of the first World Suicide Report ‘Preventing suicide: a global imperative’.
On the 4th and 5th of September 2014, a specially invited global committee of stakeholders gathered at the WHO in Geneva to discuss the strategic directions, actions and innovations in relation to the global Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020) and the launch of the first World Suicide Report ‘Preventing suicide: a global imperative’. Dr Tine Van Bortel was invited to take part and here she writes about her experience:
Suicide has been shrouded in taboo with high levels of stigma attached to it. Yet it is fast becoming a global epidemic with more than 800,000 people dying every year (one person every 40 seconds!). The young and elderly are especially at risk with world suicide rates highest in over 70-year olds whilst in some countries it is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. Low- and middle- income countries carry a higher burden with almost 75% of suicides occurring there. The personal tragedies behind these numbers are even more shocking and devastate the lives of individuals, families, communities, entire societies and even economies. Yet suicide can be prevented. The report suggests that reducing access to means of suicide is one way to reduce deaths. Other effective measures include responsible reporting of suicide in the media and early identification and management of mental and substance use disorders in communities and by health workers in particular, together with follow-up care by health workers through regular contact, including by phone or home visits.
Suicide prevention also forms an integral part of the Mental Health Action Plan and at the Forum calls were made for concrete action. I was invited to participate in the workgroup on Leadership and Governance in global public mental health to discuss and draw up concrete actions with a multitude of stakeholders on the necessity for good leadership and governance, and the urgency for positive, sustainable, integrated actions. The lack of good leadership and governance is often hampering the implementation of positive actions and innovations locally, nationally and internationally with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable people and communities around the world.