The challenge of suicide prevention: An overview of national strategies
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Suicide is a global phenomenon. It is estimated that 0.5-1.2 million people worldwide die by suicide each year. Taking into account the global epidemiologic data concerning suicide and the economic impact of this phenomenon on diverse societies, this review aims to examine national suicide prevention strategies. Recognition of suicide as an international public health problem, increased reporting by countries on suicide rates to the WHO, and recognition of the costs (associated with suicide) to society have been crucial influences on the establishment of national strategies. Past reviews on national suicide prevention strategies highlight the fact that those countries with established national strategies share a number of themes relating to intervention. These are grounded in international guidance on suicide prevention and accepted epidemiologic and treatment-based research. This paper highlights comparative rates of suicide around the world, explores the economic implications of suicide and the nature of specific established national strategies for prevention. This paper highlights the urgency for the development of national suicide prevention strategies in all countries. Clearly, countries can learn from each other and integrate established, shared themes. It is argued that nations need to move towards nation-specified prevention strategies with effective structures for research, monitoring, and evaluation. This has been seen in countries such as Finland and New Zealand, where strategies have been effective in building inter-agency working and so benefiting different stake-holders. © 2005 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.