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DOH forum focuses on reducing record-high suicide rate

DOH forum focuses on reducing record-high suicide rate

It will take a collective effort on the part of government agencies and civic organizations to reduce the number of suicides nationally, a Department of Health official said yesterday in an international symposium.
"Suicide is a global phenomenon. A single government agency is not enough to solve the problem and efforts from civic organizations are needed as well, " DOH Deputy Minister Chen Shih-chung said in the symposium, titled "Suicide is Preventable."
According to the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center, a record 4,282 people committed suicide in Taiwan last year, representing an average of 12 cases per day. Suicide has been among the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan for eight consecutive years. Mental health service quality has to be improved and a community support system has to be organized, Chen said.
A three-stage strategy has been applied to prevent suicide, said TSPC President Lee Ming-been (李明濱), in which universal prevention focuses on the entire population, selective prevention focuses on high-risk groups, and indicative prevention targets symptomatic and "marked" high-risk individuals.
Suicide prevention is a multi-layer work that includes public health, prevention, clinical therapeutics, and health systems and services, said Eric Caines, a psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester, New York.
A "framework" of suicide prevention can only be established with the cooperation of the government and civic groups, according to Caines.
Suicide is the result of multiple risk factors and events, Caine said, adding that cultural forces play a critical role, but that it's not clear how to "use" culture to modify suicide rates.
Case studies have shown, for example, that effective alcohol control helps lower suicide rates in Eastern Europe. Young adults account for most suicide cases in Australia, while rural China is the only known place where the number of female suicides exceeds the number of male cases, Caine pointed out.
He further said that statistics also show, surprisingly, that the suicide rate among African-American females is the lowest of any racial group in the United States, even though they have, on average, the lowest income and social status.
"More recent research has shown that this is because most African-American females have strong religious beliefs and a supporting family system," he pointed out.


Updated : 2021-04-12 01:44 GMT+08:00