The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for developing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote mental health.
Ahead of the World Mental Health Day, to be observed on Thursday, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said the region's member states are taking important steps to address the issue.
In line with the regional strategy for preventing suicide, all the countries are working to develop and implement comprehensive, multisectoral suicide prevention strategies, she said.
Suicide is a public health problem, according to the WHO. An estimated 8 lakh people globally commit suicide every year, which equates to around one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 and 29.
Though suicide is a global issue, nearly 79 per cent of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. The Southeast Asia Region is the world's most affected area, accounting for 39 per cent of global suicide mortality.
Singh said national policies or strategies for suicide prevention should be developed and implemented in line with evidence, best practices and international and regional human rights conventions. To do that, appropriate budgets should be allocated, she added.
She also said that surveillance for suicide should be established and strengthened and, wherever possible, linked to other sources of data.
Sex and age-disaggregated data ought to be collected and measured, while the direct and indirect costs of suicide and attempted suicide should be collated, Singh said.