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Suicide Worldwide in 2019: WHO

  • 22 Jun 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, a report titled Suicide worldwide in 2019 was published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.

Key Points

  • Unmet Target:
    • Reducing the global suicide mortality rate by a third is both, an indicator and a target (the only one for mental health) in the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But the world will not be able to reach this target.
      • The SDGs call on countries to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by a third, by 2030 through prevention and treatment and to promote mental health and well-being.
      • They ask countries to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol. They also call for universal health coverage, which mental health is part of.
    • Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted, the report said.
      • Currently, only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.
  • Suicides in 2019:
    • The Covid-19-pandemic has increased mental stress globally. However a crisis was already in place in 2019. Approximately 7,03,000 people or one in a 100, died by suicide in 2019.
      • The global age-standardized suicide rate was 9.0 per 1,00,000 population for 2019.
    • Many of these were young people. More than half of global suicides (58%) occurred before the age of 50 years. Suicide was the fourth-leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 globally in 2019.
    • Some 77% of global suicides in 2019 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Regional Data :
    • Africa, Europe and South-East Asia recorded suicide rates higher than the global average.
      • This number was highest in the Africa region (11.2) followed by Europe (10.5) and South-East Asia (10.2).
    • In 20 years (2000-2019), the global suicide rate had decreased by 36%.
      • The decrease ranged from 17% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47% in the European Region and 49% in the Western Pacific Region.
    • The Region of the Americas recorded a substantial 17% increase in the suicide rate during the same period and has been an exception.
  • Suicides in India:
    • India has the highest suicide rate in the Southeast Asian region.
      • A total of 1,34,516 cases of suicide were reported in 2018 in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
      • While the rate of suicide was 9.9 in 2017, it increased to 10.2 in 2018.
  • WHO Guidelines to Reduce Suicides:
    • The WHO had published new LIVE LIFE guidelines to help countries reduce the global suicide mortality rate by a third by 2030. These are:
      • Limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms.
      • Educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide.
      • Fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents.
      • Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
    • These needed to go hand-in-hand with foundational pillars like situation analysis, multi-sectoral collaboration, awareness raising capacity building, financing, surveillance and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Legal Status of Attempted Suicide in India:
    • According to Article 21 of the Indian constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by the law”. While the constitution covers the right to life or liberty, it does not include the ‘right to die’.
      • The attempts at taking one's own life are not considered to fall under purview of constitutional right to life.
    • Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both.
      • It is to be noted that the abetting of the commission of suicide (but not the abetting of attempt to commit suicide) is covered under Section 306 IPC and the abetment of suicide of a child is covered under Section 305 IPC.
    • Section 115 (1) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 of the Act provides, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the IPC, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.
      • However, this law applies only to those suffering from mental illness. There is presumption of severe stress in case of an attempt to die by suicide.
  • Related Indian Initiatives:
    • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
    • KIRAN: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline to provide support to people facing anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health concerns.
    • Manodarpan Initiative: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Education under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It is aimed to provide psychosocial support to students, family members and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.

Source: DTE

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