More die from suicide than wars, murders -experts

By Matthew Verrinder

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - More people kill themselves each year than die from wars and murders combined, but most suicides could be prevented, two international experts on suicide said on Friday.

Some 20 million to 60 million try to kill themselves each year, but only about a million of them succeed, said Dr. Jose Manoel Bertolote, a mental health official at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

The ones who do end their lives “are tragic situations where help could have been provided,” said Brian Mishara, president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention in Gondrin, France.

The two men spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a U.N. seminar marking this Sunday’s World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide rates could be reduced if countries would limit access to pesticides, guns and medication and do a better job of treating people with depression, alcoholism and schizophrenia, Mishara said.

About a third of all suicides around the world are caused by pesticides, said Bertolote.

Dentists, veterinarians and doctors are particularly at risk for suicide – not because of their high-stress professions but because they have access to lethal chemicals and know how to handle them, Bertolote said.

Those who lose a job abruptly are more likely to kill themselves than people living in poor social conditions for long periods, he said.

Also, people living in countries where suicide is illegal like Singapore, Lebanon and India are less likely to seek help if they have suicidal thoughts, for fear the government may punish them, Mishara said.

Copyright 2005 Reuters

There we go. Before blaming human lives lost in wars, think about those who took themselves out.