Today is a significant awareness day in the psychiatric calendar: World Suicide Prevention Day 2018. This year’s theme of ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ prompts us to reflect on the role research plays in the collaborative effort to tackle this important global issue.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes suicide as a public health priority, with almost 800,000 people dying each year. This equates to a shocking one death every 40 seconds.
By increasing the awareness of suicide mental health conditions, we can have a positive impact on those affected. Moreover, recent research published suggests that suicide prevention public service announcements may positively influence help-seeking attitudes of young adults.
We recognize the importance of suicide prevention research and have launched two Research Topics on the theme.
Understanding the complex phenomenon of suicide: from research to clinical practice features articles covering the breadth of the topic, incorporating psychopathology, neurology, social psychiatry and epidemiology alongside clinical expertise. Its foundations are built on the belief that improving knowledge across these different areas may help to improve prevention.
While The Psychology of Suicide: From Research Understandings to Intervention and Treatment aims to identify psychological understandings and characteristics that may be used to develop both prevention and intervention methods.
The 34 high-quality articles published in both collections have so far generated 124,000 views and downloads and have been globally recognized in international news outlets and on social media. It is important to ensure that this crucial recognition and multifaceted approach to research continues with the wider application of policies and strategies at a government, healthcare and support level.
As an example, in a key Systematic Review Verrocchio et al. conclude that mental pain is a significant predictor of suicide risk, recommending that healthcare professionals are aware of this for patient assessment to further understand risk prediction.
Professor Stefan Borgwardt, Field Chief Editor of Frontiers in Psychiatry, echoes these views, stating “From my perspective, as a clinician, scientist and psychiatrist, I consider suicide as preventable. As suicide is linked in almost all cases to mental disorders, knowing the risk factors and recognizing the warning signs for suicide is the key knowledge for psychiatry to help prevent suicide.”
Ultimately, whilst experts in the field strive to provide further understanding of the complex nature of suicide, there is no underestimating the impact that basic awareness amongst the wider population can have.
What can you do to make a difference? Take just five minutes out of your day to check out the take 5 to save lives campaign.