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Suicide prevention


    More than 700 000 people die by suicide every year. Furthermore, for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.

    Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts on families, friends, colleagues, communities and societies.

    Suicides are preventable. Much can be done to prevent suicide at individual, community and national levels. 


    More than 700 000 people die by suicide every year; that’s one person every 40 seconds. Suicide occurs throughout life. It is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.

    Suicide occurs in all regions of the world. In fact, 77% of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries.

    While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis. Further risk factors include experience of loss, loneliness, discrimination, a relationship break-up, financial problems, chronic pain and illness, violence, abuse, and conflict or other humanitarian emergencies. The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

    WHO response

    Much can be done to prevent suicide. WHO’s LIVE LIFE approach recommends four key interventions which have proven to be effective:

    • limit access to the means of suicide
    • interact with the media for responsible reporting of suicide.
    • foster socio-emotional life skills in adolescents
    • early identify, assess, manage and follow up anyone who is affected by suicidal behaviours 


      These key interventions need to be accompanied by the following foundational pillars: situation analysis, multisectoral collaboration, awareness raising, capacity building, financing, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation.

      This approach is the basis on which comprehensive multisectoral national suicide prevention strategies should be developed.

      National suicide prevention strategies: progress, examples and indicators


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      Latest publications

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      Training manual for surveillance of suicide and self-harm in communities via key informants

      More than 700 000 people lose their life to suicide every year. A core foundation of suicide prevention is the timely registration and regular monitoring...

      Preventing suicide: LIVE LIFE implementation

      More than 700 000 people took their own lives in 2019. Reducing suicide is an indicator (the only one for mental health) in the United Nations Sustainable...

      LIVE LIFE: An implementation guide for suicide prevention in countries

      More than 700 000 people lose their life to suicide every year. The world is not on track to reach the 2030 suicide reduction targets. WHO advocates for...


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