World Suicide Prevention Day started in 2003. On September 10 if that year, in Stockholm, Sweden, the International Association for Suicide Prevention teamed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create a day dedicated to a very important message: suicides are preventable. The goal of that day is to shine a light on the problems, hoping that it can reach people who are struggling before it’s too late.

The first year was a success, and in 2004, WHO formally agreed to co-sponsor the even again, making it an annually recognised day.

According to data by the WHO, more than 700 000 people die by suicide every year, a figure which translate to one person every 40 seconds. One in every 100 death is by suicide. Suicide is a global phenomenon; in fact, 77 percent of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2019. Suicide accounted for 1.3 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2019.

A study in 2019 shows that more than six people are affected by a single suicide. Julie Cerel, from the University of Kentucky and her team of researchers have found that up to 135 people are affected to some degree by every person lost to suicide. That number includes all people who have known the deceased.

Each year, the figure for suicide went higher. In 2001, the suicide rate in the United States was 10.7 million, almost two decades later, in 2019, the figure stood at 13.9 million. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between ages of 10 and 34.

Suicide is preventable. WHO has listed a few approaches to suicide prevention, and recommends the following key effective evidence-based interventions;

  • limit access to the means of suicide (e.g., pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
  • 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.

Suicide prevention efforts require co-operation and coordination from all level of the society. This includes the health sector and other sectors such as education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, defence, politics, and the media. No one can approach suicide alone without the other.

If you knew anyone who are having suicidal thoughts, depression or are performing self-harm, try to talk to them, if not encourage them to seek help. A little kindness goes a long way. It can save lives.

If you are under stress or conflicts and need someone to talk to, try to reach out to your friends or family. Death is not the solution to every problem.  

In Malaysia, the Befrienders Kuala Lumpur are there 24 hours to provide emotional support to those who need it. Every call made to them are free and confidential. If you are lonely, in distress, in despair or having suicide thoughts, please reach out to Befrienders Kuala Lumpur.

Hotline: 03-76272929