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Home / Health & Science

Suicide among leading causes of death in teens – report

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JAEL MBOGA | Mon,Jun 21 2021 15:46:07 EAT
By JAEL MBOGA | Mon,Jun 21 2021 15:46:07 EAT

The fourth leading cause of death in teens aged 15-19 is suicide, the global health agency has said.

The World Health Organisation in a statement on June 17 said more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year.

It said for every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide.

WHO said a prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.

"Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds ... in 2019."

The report said 77 per cent of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Ingestion of pesticides, hanging, and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

Every year 703,000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide, the report said.

"Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities, and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan."

WHO said suicide does not just occur in high-income countries but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world.

Suicide is a serious public health problem; however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based, and often low-cost interventions.

For national responses to be effective, the global health agency said a multisectoral prevention strategy is needed.

Who is at risk?

While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.

The WHO said suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners.

"By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt."

To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy.

Globally, the availability and quality of data on suicide and suicide attempts are poor. Only some 80 UN Member States have good-quality vital registration data that can be used directly to estimate suicide rates. 

WHO said stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need.

"Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts."

On June 17, a 67-year-old village elder in Chepalungu committed suicide.

Relatives of John Koros from Atebwo in Siongiroi said they suspect he killed himself over a bank loan that he claimed he was unable to pay due to economic hardships.

Chepalungu Sub-County police commander Nelson Maasai said the body of the deceased was taken to Longisa Hospital Mortuary.

Maasai said detectives had been dispatched to the scene to investigate.

At the same time, Langat decried rising cases of suicide, saying locals are still mourning a secondary school teacher who killed himself a week ago.

The teacher is reported to have committed suicide after a quarrel with his wife.

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