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800,000 People Die due to Suicide Every Year: WHO Report

Sep 04, 2014 07:10 AM EDT
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More than 800,000 people commit suicide each year, that is about one suicide every 40 seconds, according to The World Health Organization.

Suicide rates vary between countries. The UN agency said that at least 75 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

"This report is a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long" said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, according to a news release.

The numbers might be an underestimate, WHO said, because suicide is still a criminal offence in several countries. India, for example, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world - 21 deaths per 100,000 people. The global average rate for suicides is 11 per suicide, The Guardian reported.

The report is released just a week before the World Suicide Prevention Day, which is observed on September 10, every year.

Hanging, firearm and pesticide poisoning are some of the most common methods of committing suicide.

Suicide affects all age groups, but people above teh age of 70 years are most likely to die of suicide than other people. In some countries, researchers found, suicide rates were higher among young people, i.e. between the age group of 15-29 years.

As with other studies on suicide, this report also shows that men are more likely to kill themselves. In fact, men living in rich countries are three times more likely of dying due to suicide than women.

Preventable Cause of Death                                          

Suicides are preventable. WHO says that early identification and management of mental diseases and substance abuse can help reduce the number of suicides.

"No matter where a country currently stands in suicide prevention", said Dr Alexandra Fleischmann, Scientist in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO, "effective measures can be taken, even just starting at local level and on a small-scale".

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2009, about 37,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide.

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