WHO fact sheet on Suicide (reviewed 31 August 2015)

The World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed its fact sheet on suicide recently.

Key Messages:

More than 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.

75% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

For every suicide there are many more people (more than 20) who attempt suicide every year.

Consumption of pesticide/ pesticide self-poisoning (30% of suicides), hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.

There is a link between suicides and mental ill-health. However, many suicides are the result of impulsive decisions in moments of crisis due to a breakdown in the ability to deal with life’s stresses.

In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination.

A previous suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.

Measures to prevent suicides and suicide attempts include:

  • “reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
  • reporting by media in a responsible way;
  • introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
  • early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
  • training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour;
  • follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.”

Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, is a major challenge to suicide prevention. Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.

Useful Links:

Link to the fact sheet on suicide:


Link to World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” (2014) [Available in Multiple languages]:


Link to Key Messages of the World Suicide Report (English):


Link to Suicide Myths from the World Suicide Report (English):


Link to “Public Health Action for the Prevention of Suicide: A Framework”:


Link to Resource Series on Preventing Suicide (Available in Multiple languages):


2 thoughts on “WHO fact sheet on Suicide (reviewed 31 August 2015)

  1. Pingback: WHO fact sheet on Suicide (reviewed 31 August 2015) | Social Stigmas

  2. Pingback: Suicide: Risk Factors | NAMI South Bay

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