Africa has world's highest rates of suicide: WHO

Roughly 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in African region, says UN health agency

James Tasamba  | 07.10.2022 - Update : 07.10.2022
Africa has world's highest rates of suicide: WHO

KIGALI, Rwanda

Africa has the world’s highest rate of deaths by suicide, according to the World Health Organization.

Roughly 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in the African region, the WHO said in a statement Thursday, higher than the global average of nine per 100,000 people.

It said Africa is home to six of the 10 countries with the highest suicide rates worldwide.

“This is due in part to insufficient action to address and prevent the risk factors, including mental health conditions which currently affect 116 million people, up from 53 million in 1990,” read the statement.

The African region has one psychiatrist for every 500,000 people, which is 100 times less than WHO recommendation, it added.

Some of the common means of suicide in the region are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning, and to a lesser extent drowning, use of a firearm, jumping from a height, or medication overdose.

“Suicide is a major public health problem and every death by suicide is a tragedy. Unfortunately, suicide prevention is rarely a priority in national health programs,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

“Significant investment must be made to tackle Africa’s growing burden of chronic diseases and non-infectious conditions such as mental disorders that can contribute to suicide.”

To respond to the challenge, the WHO has launched a social media campaign that aims to “raise public awareness and galvanize the support of governments and policymakers to increase focus and funding for mental health programming, including suicide prevention efforts,” the statement said.

The campaign, which has been launched ahead of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, aims to reach 10 million people across the region.

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