World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September promotes worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. On average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

Dealing and living with suicide is, sadly, becoming an all too familiar role for many families across the world. Relationship problems, ignorance, promotion of mental health services and antidepressant use are just a few of the key factors that plague this beautiful world we live in.  Awareness needs to be raised that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be translated into prevention programmes and activities in communities.  Suicide cuts across all sex, age, and economic barriers. People of all ages complete suicide, men and women as well as young children, the rich as well as the poor. No one is immune to this tragedy.

Suicide has historically been treated as a criminal matter in many parts of the world.  Whilst it is technically true that a person who has successfully committed suicide is beyond the reach of the law, there could still be legal consequences in the cases of treatment of the corpse or the fate of the person’s property or family members. The associated matters of assisting a suicide and attempting suicide have also been dealt with by the laws of some jurisdictions.

Related Links:

Today don’t forget to breath

Grief After Suicide

bipolar disorder and suicide

Laws against suicide (and attempted suicide) prevailed in English common law until 1961. English law perceived suicide as an immoral, criminal offence against God and also against the King.  It first became illegal in the 13th century.  Until 1822, in fact, the possessions of somebody who committed suicide could even be forfeited to the Crown.

Suicide ceased to be a criminal offence with the passing of the Suicide Act 1961; the same Act made it an offence to assist in a suicide. With respect to civil law the simple act of suicide is lawful but the consequences of committing suicide might turn an individual event into an unlawful act, as in the case of Reeves v Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis [2000] 1 AC 360,where a man in police custody hanged himself and was held equally liable with the police (a cell door defect enabled the hanging) for the loss suffered by his widow; the practical effect was to reduce the police damages liability by 50%. In 2009, the House of Lords ruled that the law concerning the treatment of people who accompanied those who committed assisted suicide was unclear, following Debbie Purdy‘s case that this lack of clarity was a breach of her human rights. (In her case, as a sufferer from multiple sclerosis, she wanted to know whether her husband would be prosecuted for accompanying her abroad where she may eventually wish to commit assisted suicide, if her illness progressed.) As a result, this law is expected to be revised

If you google depression or suicide you get lots of scary anecdotal information about antidepressants causing suicide and violence along with the usual conspiracy stories and pharmaceutical bashing.  Antidepressants do not cure life problems, but they bring significant relief and save significant lives in millions of humans.


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