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World Suicide Prevention Day

International Association For Suicide Prevention

Monday 8 September 2008

World Suicide Prevention Day

On September 10, 2008, events around the world will mark the 6th annual World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Activities in 2008 focus on the theme ‘Think Globally. Plan Nationally. Act Locally’. At a media briefing to be held at 11am at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the President of IASP, Professor Brian Mishara, and WHO representatives will announce the latest figures on suicide worldwide as well as suicide prevention activities.

“More than a million people worldwide die by suicide each year. More people kill themselves than die in all wars, terrorist activities and homicides. Many millions more make suicide attempts severe enough to need medical treatment, and over six million people are affected annually by the disastrous impact of the suicide of a close friend or family member,” says Professor Brian Mishara, President of IASP.

“However we’ve now developed enough understanding of suicide to prevent a significant proportion of these tragic deaths, to treat suicidal individuals and to help families bereaved by suicide.”

Global, national and local events, including conferences, meetings, concerts and activities with spiritual or cultural content will take place on September 10 to develop awareness of suicide as a major preventable cause of premature death. These events will also enhance understanding about suicide, and publicize progress and programmes for effective suicide prevention.

The United Nations media briefing will be followed by a public conference,co-sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the U.S. National Lifeline Network of Telephone Helplines, from 1.00- 3:30pm in Room 1 of United Nations Headquarters.

The conference includes discussion of world suicide prevention activities, the challenges facing suicide prevention in Latin America, telephone helplines, school-based suicide prevention programmes and the role of general practitioners in suicide prevention.

At the conference at the UN, Professor Mishara will review global suicide prevention activities and give examples of international partnerships to address suicide.

“Experts from many countries in the International Association for Suicide Prevention have collaborated to produce guidelines for the WHO to assist media to report suicide, to prevent suicide in prisons and to assist families bereaved by suicide”, he says.

Pursuing this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme, planning at the national level provides the political leadership and policy frameworks that are critical to maintaining a high profile and continued funding for suicide research and prevention. At a local level there are many prevention programmes that translate policy statements and research into effective local activities.

“We need to use the very considerable knowledge that we now have, to develop coordinated and comprehensive suicide prevention initiatives throughout the world, adapted to local cultures and resources,” says Professor Mishara.

Suicide is the result of a complex interaction of causal factors, including mental illness, poverty, substance abuse, social isolation, losses, relationship difficulties and workplace problems. To be effective, suicide prevention needs to incorporate a multi-faceted approach that acknowledges the multiple causes of suicidal behaviour. It should involve health and mental health professionals, volunteers, researchers, families and others bereaved by suicide, as well as central and local governments, education, emergency workers, employers, religious leaders, politicians and the media.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention was founded in Vienna (1960) as a fellowship of researchers, clinicians, practitioners, volunteers and national and local organizations. IASP, in official relations with the WHO, believes that suicide prevention should be given greater priority at global, national, and local levels incorporating research that has shown suicide is preventable.

Examples of activities held on this day in different countries are posted on the IASP Website: Further information on World Suicide Prevention Day 2008 can be downloaded at


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