Samaritans comment on the world health organizations' world suicide report

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans, commented:

“We welcome the World Suicide Report (WSR) published by the World Health Organization today.

“A global perspective highlights the need to address the wider context of suicidal behaviour, for example geographic location, cultural factors and economic conditions, in addition to the key influence of mental ill-health. At country level, this means considering influences such as deprivation and the extent of community ties.  

“We were particularly pleased to see the report highlight the effective contribution made by crisis helplines such as Samaritans to reducing suicidal behaviour. As well as a round the clock helpline, Samaritans undertakes a range of activities which, according to the WSR, can contribute to the national suicide prevention agenda. 

“One of the strategies Samaritans uses to reach the whole population is working with the media to ensure sensitive reporting of suicide. We are proud of our leadership role in this area across the UK and ROI, through the provision of expert advice and guidelines for over two decades. Samaritans also contributes to selective suicide prevention by targeting people who are at greater risk of suicide. We do this by reaching out to men from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, who are three times more likely to take their own lives than men living in more affluent circumstances, and people who have been bereaved by suicide, who are also at higher risk.

“The World Health Organization report makes clear that, the first step to effective suicide prevention is making sure that the data being used to inform prevention measures is accurate and timely. Samaritans relies on such statistics to provide a clear picture of the people needing our support and communities most at risk of suicide across the UK and ROI.

“Samaritans has recently joined forces with Sense About Science, along with other charities, to lobby for more timely registration and recording of suicides in England and Wales, which will make suicide data more accurate and helpful for those who work in prevention.  While the UK might be ahead of some countries in terms of data collection systems, much work still needs to be done to make data comparable across the countries in the UK and ROI.

“The WSR reinforces the important messages that suicide is a global public health concern and that a multi-agency approach is needed, in all countries, to achieve successful prevention efforts. Samaritans understands these messages very well. We embrace partnership working and recognise that a joined up approach is vital to reduce these preventable deaths.”