09/10/2019, 16.37
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One suicide every 40 seconds, WHO warns

The Asian countries with the highest suicide rate are South Korea, India and Japan, UN agency reports. Hanging, self-poisoning with pesticides and firearms are the most common methods of taking one's own life. In Sri Lanka, a series of bans on pesticides led to a 70 per cent drop in the number of deaths.

Geneva (AsiaNews) – Worldwide one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds, this according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Together with international partners, the UN agency is marking World Suicide Prevention Day today.

Following the publication of WHO’s first global report on suicide in 2014, the UN agency released its latest data on suicides in the world yesterday. Close to 800 000 people die from suicide every year, almost twice as many as the victims of malaria or murders.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death after road accidents for people aged 15-29 years. Among teenagers aged 15-19 years, suicide is the second leading cause of death among girls (after maternal conditions) and the third leading cause of death in boys after road injury and interpersonal violence.

Whilst 79 per cent of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate. The global age-standardised suicide rate for 2016 was 10.5 per 100 000, but rates vary widely between countries, from 5 per 100 000 to more than 30 per 100 000.

WHO found that South Korea, India, and Japan have the highest suicide rates in Asia with 20.2, 16.5 and 14.3 respectively. The most common methods of taking one's own life are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning and firearms.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of suicides is to limit access to pesticides used in self-poisoning. According to Mark Van Ommeren, psychologist and WHO coordinator for mental health, "Pesticides are among the most easily accessible products, especially in large rural countries like China or India."

The best-studied country is Sri Lanka, where a series of bans led to a 70 per cent drop in suicides and an estimated 93 000 lives saved between 1995 and 2015.

In South Korea – where the herbicide paraquat accounted for most pesticide suicide deaths in the 2000s – a ban in 2011-2012 halved the number of suicide deaths from pesticide poisoning between 2011 and 2013.

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