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Since 2003, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), has promoted World Suicide Prevention Day, held annually on 10 September. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. The theme for this year is "Take a minute. Change a life."

Key Messages:

  • Life is precious and sometimes precarious. Taking a minute to reach out to someone can change the course of their life.
  • As members of communities, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling.
  • Check in with people in need, and encourage them to tell their stories in their own way and at their own pace.
  • Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgmental way can make all the difference.
  • It is a myth that talking about suicide with someone can put the idea into their head or trigger the act; being caring and listening with a non-judgmental ear are far more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it.
  • Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.


Suicide is a significant public health problem worldwide. It affects families, communities and entire countries. Globally, more than 800,000 people die from suicide each year, equaling one suicide every 40 seconds. For each suicide death, there are estimated to be more than 20 suicide attempts. Globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. While more men commit suicide than women, women will attempt suicide more frequently.

In the Americas, around 65,000 deaths occur from suicide each year. In many countries, the number of deaths due to suicide may be underestimated. North America and the Non-Hispanic Caribbean exhibit the highest rates of suicide in the Region. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in persons aged 20-24 and the fourth leading cause of death among those aged 10-19 and 25-44 in the Region. Suicides in men account for the majority (79%) of all suicide deaths in the Americas.

Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.

Risk Factors for Suicide

Health Systems and Society

  • Barriers to accessing health care
  • Access to the means for committing suicide
  • Inappropriate media reporting on suicide
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior

Community and Interpersonal

  • Disaster, war and conflict
  • Stresses of acculturation and dislocation
  • DiscriminationTrauma or abuse


  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Mental disorders
  • Family history of suicide
  • Harmful use of alcohol
  • Hopelessness
  • Chronic pain
  • Job of financial loss
  • Genetic and biological factors

Evidence-based Interventions

  • Mental health and alcohol policies
  • Improving access to health care
  • Restriction of access to means of suicide
  • Responsible media reporting of suicide
  • Raising awareness about mental health, substance use disorders and suicide
  • Gatekeeper training to identify those at risk of suicide and refer them to appropriate treatment
  • Assessment and management of suicidal behaviors and mental and substance use disorders
  • Follow-up and community support for recently discharged patients

Cycle in support to suicide prevention

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PAHO joins the "Cycle around the world" campaign lead by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness on suicide and promote suicide prevention activities. The challenge consists on collectively cycle the globe (40,075 km / 24,900 miles).

We invite you to join the campaign by riding your bike and registering the miles or kilometers that you ride from 2st - 17th September, 2017.

You can cycle anywhere: on your way to home, work, local roads, as part of a race, by yourself, with a group of friends, etc. Whatever distance you wish. Anyone of any age can join the event. The more people take part, the greater is the awareness raised.  Click on the following link for more information

Communication materials

Graphic Cards



















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