The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) will turn the global
spotlight on suicide next month to increase public awareness of the problem
and reduce the incidence of suicide around the world.
World Mental Health Day falls on October 10 and the theme is"
Building Awareness—Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and
"The devastation that suicide can cause should be a major concern
both in the United States and across the globe. We know the facts—that
left untreated, mental illnesses can be as lethal as untreated cancer,"
said James H. Scully Jr., M.D., medical director of APA. "Bringing
attention to mental illnesses and suicide during World Mental Health Day 2006
is both timely and essential. The more information psychiatrists and other
mental health professionals can provide to the public through public-awareness
events, educational tools, and one-to-one outreach, the more lives we can
Scully is a member of the World Mental Health Day 2006 Scientific Advisory
According to the WFMH, there are 1 million suicide deaths each year around
the world, representing 1.4 percent of the total global burden of disease.
At least 90 percent of those who die by suicide have at least one
undiagnosed mental illness, which includes drug or alcohol use disorders.
"These facts should motivate governmental bodies and officials to pay
greater attention to the negative social and economic consequences that result
from failure to implement progressive national policies and strategies to
address the unmet needs of people with mental illness and at risk for
suicide," according to the WFMH.
This year, the WFMH has collaborated with the International Association for
Suicide Prevention to promote World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on
Each year since 1992, local, regional, and national mental health agencies
across the world have commemorated World Mental Health Day by planning
activities to educate the public about the prevalence, prevention, and
treatment of certain mental illnesses.
This summer the WFMH distributed thousands of informational packets to
mental health agencies and clinics, governmental organizations, and medical
associations thousands of packets. Information covered suicide prevention and
the responsible reporting of incidents of suicide by the media.
Also included were tips on how to commemorate the day, such as connecting
with local suicide-prevention programs and support groups, planning walks or
marches to raise awareness of suicide, and scheduling media conferences. Other
materials expose prevalent myths about suicide—that people who talk
about suicide won't really act on it; that if a person is determined to commit
suicide, nothing can stop him or her; and that talking about suicide may give
others the idea to commit suicide.
More information about World Mental Health Day 2006 is posted at<www.wfmh.org/wmhday2006.htm>.▪