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Professional News
World Mental Health Day Shines Global Spotlight on Suicide Concerns
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 17 page 17-17

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 Suicide."

"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 save."

Scully is a member of the World Mental Health Day 2006 Scientific Advisory Panel.

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 September 10.

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>.

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