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One person commits suicide every 40 seconds

One person commits suicide every 40 seconds — more than all the yearly victims of wars and natural disaster — with the highest toll among the elderly, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
In its first report on suicide, the UN body blamed intense media coverage when celebrities kill themselves for fueling the problem. “Suicide is an amazing public health problem. There is one suicide every 40 seconds — it is a huge number,” said Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s mental health department, at the presentation of the report in Geneva. “Suicide kills more than conflicts, wars and natural catastrophes,” he said. “There are 1.5 million violent deaths every year in the world, of which 800,000 are suicides.”

Some of the highest rates of suicide are found in central and eastern Europe and in Asia, with 25 percent occurring in rich countries, the report says. Men are almost twice as likely as women to take their own lives. Common methods are hanging, gunshots, and especially in rural areas the use of poisonous insecticides. “Globally, suicide rates are highest in people aged 70 years and over. In some countries, however, the highest rates are found among the young,” WHO said. “Notably, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year-olds globally.”Alexandra Fleischmann, one of the report’s coauthors, said part of the blame lies with the publicity given to suicides by famous people, such as Hollywood actor Robin Williams.

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