World Suicide Prevention Day 2021
Suicide is a global phenomenon that continues to threaten human societies in many parts of the world, with approximately 77% of global suicides occurring in poor and middle-income countries according to the WHO. Each year, more people die by suicide than from HIV, malaria, breast cancer, or even armed conflict.
Hence, in an effort to prevent the alarming number of global suicides, the international community has designated a special as World Suicide Prevention Day, which is annually observed on the 10th of September and organized by the WHO, IASP and World Federation for Mental Health.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the negative economic repercussions and societal and ethnic tensions around the world, there has been a spike in clinical depression and accordingly in suicide numbers. According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the pandemic has deeply impacted the mental health of people worldwide due to recurrent stay-at-home orders and public health and economic related anxieties, increasing feelings of isolation and vulnerability.
The social stigma surrounding suicide, the illegal nature of the act in some countries, as well as the low availability of accurate and timely data has hindered the process of addressing the issue as hand. Hence, the celebration of this day is intended to shed light on the devastating and tragic occurrence of suicide and provide international commitment and action respectively.
On this day, states must encourage work on addressing core factors that lead to suicidal behaviors, including identifying risk and protective factors (particularly in childhood), foster the development and implementation of awareness raising campaigns, increase the inclusive availability of mental health resources and equal access to care.
Within that framework, the theme of 2021 is “Creating Hope Through Action”, with the aim of inspiring confidence in all and highlighting that there is always an alternative to suicide. It is important to note that we can all play a role in supporting those with suicidal tendencies. Ultimately, preventing suicide is possible through support and well-informed action.
As suicide is often a result of many complex sociocultural and interrelated factors, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights aspires to encourage a more understanding and compassionate society. As stated by the IASP President Professor Rory O’Connor, "Any one of us can reach in to show someone that we care, offering a listening ear, engaging in a non-judgmental conversation, sharing a useful resource, or helping someone in crisis to make a safety plan."
Hence, the Institute calls on States, individuals and humanitarian organizations working in the health sector to intensify efforts towards suicide prevention. Similarly the Institute calls on governments and communities to develop national prevention strategies and follow the LIVE LIFE implementation guide for suicide prevention as set by the World Health that encourages international engagement in suicide prevention activities.