World Mental Health Day: Mental Health and Suicide in Midlife

Today marks World Mental Health day and this year, suicide prevention is the main theme.

With around 800,000 people dying by suicide a year (source WHO), suicide is a global public health problem.

From depression, physical illness, bereavement, to retirement or change in social status, there are many factors influencing suicide in older adults. Alarmingly, research has revealed – from more than 40 global studies – that 75% of patients who complete suicide have had contact with their GPs in the previous 12 months.

So what are we doing about it?

Global developments

Major initiatives, such as the annual World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) every 10 September, contribute to increase awareness of suicide and suicide prevention across the globe.

Contact with the family doctor

Suicide prevention strategies aimed at general practice can be effective. Evidence suggests that suicide prevention training for GPs is effective at reducing the risk of future suicide by 50%.

Educate the media

From advertisers and journalists to bloggers and influencers, the media has a significant impact on the communities’ attitude towards suicide and the way vulnerable individuals consider suicide.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation have produced guidelines for the media to “de –sensationalise” suicide reporting, and we are seeing progress on social media allowing for real-time identification of and responses to posts that indicate that an individual is at heightened or imminent risk of suicide.

A caring conversation

So, how do we help someone who is in crisis? The World Federation for Mental Health believes it could be as fundamental as a thoughtful conversation. They say: “Having a caring conversation with the person at risk can provide basic life saving assistance in their moment of need.”

Suicide is complex and has multiple causes. But we need to realise that suicide is preventable and that we, each and every one of us, can make a difference. From prevention of mental illness, promotion of good health, reduction in the stigma associated with mental illness and improved access to mental health care – we must keep the fight going, together, to bring people back from the darkness and into the light!

Did you know?

  • Somebody somewhere in the world dies of suicide every forty seconds
  • 800,000 people die by suicide a year
  • 75% of patients who complete suicide have had contact with their GPs in the previous 12 months

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