Suicide Prevention in Humanitarian Settings
Why we need to address suicide in humanitarian settings
- Globally, more than 700,000 lives are lost to suicide each year.
- For each person who dies by suicide, 20 more are estimated to have attempted suicide.
- Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death among young people (aged 15-29) worldwide.
- Low and middle income countries have the highest numbers of suicides, accounting for 75% of all suicides.
People living in places of humanitarian emergency and ongoing conflict are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges, including suicidal thoughts, due to the trauma, displacement and loss they may have endured. Many people affected by humanitarian emergencies may also experience additional stressors that can increase the risk for suicide, such as economic difficulties, loss of resources, violence and abuse, and social isolation.
These countries, many of which include low- and middle-income countries often lack the mental health infrastructure needed to provide adequate support and care for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, due to more limited resources and funding for mental health services, and limited mental health awareness at the community level. Normal support structures including access to family support and appropriate mental health care may also be limited, and stigma around mental health is pervasive.
Despite these challenges, communities affected by conflict and disaster exhibit incredible resilience. Most are able to overcome such stressors placed upon them without external support, however for those that require support, suicide prevention efforts can harness this strength to save lives.
How we help
HealthNet TPO is part of the mission to support people living through conflict and disaster to prevent suicide by addressing mental health and psychosocial concerns early.
We work with communities who are affected by conflict or disaster to raise awareness to mental health issues, break down taboos and diminish stigmas that might prevent people from access care. Our community health workers and health professionals are trained to identify, address and refer mental health concerns early.
We also work with health structures to integrate mental health within the health system and to provide adequate care that is accessible to all.
How can you help?
Every one can play a role in suicide prevention. It's so important for all of us to be aware of the signs of someone in crisis and to not hesitate to reach out, offering support and understanding. Every gesture, no matter how small, can potentially save a life. We can all commit to fostering a community where people feel seen, heard and valued. Help is always available.