WHO Says Africa Has Highest Suicidal Death Rate, Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Africa has the world’s highest suicide rate, reported The Africa News.

In a statement released on Thursday, the WHO said roughly 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in the African region, higher than the global average of nine per 100,000 people. Furthermore, six of the 10 countries with the highest suicide rates are in Africa.

The statement added that the high suicidal rates are due in part to insufficient action to address and prevent the risk factors, including mental health conditions which currently affect 116 million people, up from 53 million in 1990.

It added that the African region has one psychiatrist for every 500,000 people, which is 100 times less than what the WHO recommends.

Some of the common ways of suicide in the region are hanging, use of a firearm, pesticide self-poisoning, jumping from a height or medication overdose, and to a lesser extent, drowning. Studies show that in Africa there are an estimated 20 attempted ones for each completed suicide.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said suicide is a major public health problem and every death by suicide is a tragedy. She said unfortunately suicide prevention is rarely a priority in national health programs.

She said African countries must make significant investment to tackle growing burden of chronic diseases and non-infectious conditions such as mental disorders that can contribute to suicide.

To respond to the challenge, the WHO has also launched a social media campaign that aims to raise public awareness and galvanize the support of governments and policymakers to increase focus and funding for mental health programming, including suicide prevention efforts.

Launched ahead of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, the social media campaign aims to reach 10 million people across the region.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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