Suicide Toll High Globally

Suicide Toll High GloballySuicide Toll High Globally

Every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life and the global figure is over 800,000 suicides a year, according to the United Nations report on the subject. Here are some of the facts in the first global report published on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 11):

* Around 800,000 people kill themselves annually

* Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people, aged 15 to 29

* Those over 70 were the most likely to take their own lives

* Three-quarters of the deaths are in low and middle income countries

* In richer countries, three times as many men as women die by suicide

 Depression Main Cause

Iran is ranked 48 among the 196 countries included in the report. The number is on the rise, reports the Iranian weekly Health. More individuals die of suicide than by murder. Attempted suicide is more common among women but actual death by suicide happens mostly among men.

Most of the suicides occur between the ages of 18 to 24 and 30 to 39. In 2013 alone, 3,640 people committed suicide-2,530 men and 1,110 women, according to Iranian Legal Medicine Organization.

Dr. Samrand Salimi, a member of Iranian Psychiatric Association, said the most important reason for suicide is despair or severe depression. When a person loses hope or feels that ‘he or she is at the end of the rope’, things may look so bleak that the person may resort to suicide. Some attempt suicide because they think they are an ‘extra burden’ and can do nothing to help or contribute to their family or those they love.

Extreme anger can spur one to end one’s life. This happens to people with bottled up feelings who don’t find a way to unburden their emotional baggage. Another factor is impulsive behavior. This is common among individuals like drug addicts. Or it could be that somebody is crying out for help and doesn’t know how else to get it. These people don’t usually want to die but want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong.

 However, depression is the most common reason people commit suicide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that there is no escape. The pain of existence becomes too much to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like ‘everyone would be better off without me’ to make rational sense. In Iran the most common age for suicidal depression is between 18 and 24.


Dr. Mehdi Hassanzadeh, emeritus psychiatry professor at Tehran Medical School is a professional who specializes in suicide prevention. He says he initially became interested in suicide research after a colleague’s son who was formerly his own patient committed suicide. “I was deeply disturbed by the news’’, he says. He spent six months in Canada training for the job. After returning to Iran he helped launch a national service for suicide prevention in collaboration with the ministry of health.

He has also written a book on the subject. In his interview with Health, he stated that 90% of suicides in Iran are preventable since they occur mostly among young people, unlike western countries where suicide is more prevalent among the elderly.  He said reasons for suicide in the East and the West are different. While depression is the No1.cause in the West, life crises are responsible in eastern nations. He said married women are more susceptible to suicide attempts because of domestic problems and difficult divorce proceedings. On the other hand, men mostly commit suicide when they are single and feel miserable. He also warned about suicide being ‘contagious’ and cautioned against setting bad examples when spreading the news of a person’s suicide.

‘’The first step at suicide prevention is to take such threats seriously.’’ He cautioned against ignoring or dismissing suicide threats as ‘empty words’. Referring a person with suicidal tendencies to a psychiatrist is the best way of prevention, he added.

 Mental Health

Dr. Hassanzadeh further said it is necessary to organize a separate department at the health ministry, specializing in mental health. “It is time to take suicide seriously, to launch a comprehensive nationwide prevention program and engage all the institutes’’, he urged officials.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization announced that introducing a national strategy for reducing suicides was effective, yet had been developed in only a minority of countries.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director general, said the report is a call for action to address a large public health problem, which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long.”Social stigma attached to mental health disorders is known to stop people seeking help and can ultimately lead to suicide.”