World Suicide Prevention Day: History, Significance and Theme

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World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day that is observed each year on September 10. The day is marked to raise awareness about suicide prevention and attempts. 

The day has been celebrated annually since 2003. The day was established with hopes of destigmatising discussions about suicide, helping prevent more suicides, and raising awareness about the issues of suicide within governments, corporations and communities.

History

The day was established through the combined efforts of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The day is part of the WHO’s 1999 initiative for global suicide prevention. Since 2011, over 40 countries have organised events around the day. 
World Suicide Prevention Day: History, Significance and Theme
World Suicide Prevention Day: History, Significance and Theme
The WHO, IASP and World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) host events on the day to raise awareness about the social stigmas that can lead to suicide and suicidal behaviours that can be spotted early on to prevent suicide.

Significance

The WHO estimates that over 700,000 individuals take their lives each year, with the number of suicide attempts being 20 times higher. The number of individuals who have suicidal thoughts or have suffered from suicidal tendencies is even higher. Suicide is now one of the leading causes of death especially among teenagers.

With suicide rates only increasing, even as reporting in many countries remains poor, there is an urgent need for national suicide prevention policies and infrastructure to be in place. However, in many countries, the support system for urgent mental health crises remains in tatters and countless lives are lost each day for a lack of simple yet cheap intervention strategies.

India alone saw 1,64,033 deaths by suicide in 2021, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). However, India has yet to formulate a national suicide prevention strategy and the act of attempting and committing suicide is still under considerable social stigma.

Theme

Every year the IASP and the WHO announce a theme around which World Suicide Prevention Day events are organised. The theme between 2021 and 2023 is “Creating Hope Through Action”, which aims to discuss, inform, and raise awareness for alternatives to suicide.

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