‘Let’s talk about suicide as a public health issue’

National 2 minutes, 12 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has urged for suicide to be discussed as a public health issue in a move to dispel myths and reduce stigma surrounding the subject.

In a message to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, IASP stressed that open communication is vital in suicide prevention as the topic is “in many communities shrouded in silence or spoken of only in hushed tones”.

It noted that equipping people to communicate effectively with those who might be vulnerable to suicide is an important part of any suicide prevention strategy.

“Broaching the subject of suicide is difficult, and these sorts of conversations are often avoided. There are some simple tips that can help, however. Many of these relate to showing compassion and empathy and listening in a non-judgemental way,” it said.

The association said social connectedness reduces the risk of suicide and reaching out to “someone who has become disconnected can be a life-saving act”.

“Connecting them with formal and informal supports may also help to prevent suicide. Individuals, organisations and communities all have a responsibility here,” it said, adding that media also have an important role to play in suicide prevention.

IASP explained that some types of reporting on suicide have been shown to contribute to increased suicide rates but others have a protective effect.

To further promote suicide prevention efforts, the association emphasised that it is crucial to foster connections with individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide or have been suicidal themselves.

However, it pointed out that “all the connecting and communicating in the world will have no effect without the final ingredient: care”.

“We need to make sure that policymakers and planners care enough about suicide prevention to make it a priority, and to fund it at a level that is commensurate with its significance as a public health problem,” said IASP.

It added that clinicians and other service providers must also care enough about suicide to make prevention their core business.

“And we need to make sure that communities care enough about it to be able to identify and support those who may be heightened at risk. Most of all, we need to ensure that we are caring ourselves,” said the association.

The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Connect, Communicate, Care’.

Over 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many attempt suicide annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO also rated the availability and quality of data globally on suicide and suicide attempts as poor. Brunei is among the member states without publicly available statistics on suicide.

The Brunei Times