UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti's Opening Speech at the roundtable discussion on suicide prevention

November 26, 2019

Photo credit: UNDP Azerbaijan

Dear Deputy Minister Anar Karimov,

Distinguished guests, partners and friends,

Thank you very much for being here today.

Over the next two days, we will be joined by Mr. Alfred Skogberg, international journalist and founder of Suicide Talks and Ms. Micheele Moore, the Director of Inclusion Childhood and Education to discuss what we can do to reduce suicide rates in Azerbaijan and put together an action plan.

Why do we need it?

According to the WHO—the lead agency for health in the UN system, every year, close to 800,000 people take their own life.

Every 40 seconds, someone makes the tragic decision that life is no longer worth living.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.

Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire societies, with long-lasting effects on the people left behind.

Suicide is a global phenomenon in all countries of the world. And Azerbaijan is no exception.

Who is at risk?

All of us.

Many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

Experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are also strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.

Mental health has been neglected for too long.

Greater action is urgent.

We need stronger investments in services.

Suicide is preventable. With timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.

For example: reducing access to the means of suicides (firearms, certain medication), reporting by media in a responsible way, school-based interventions, greater public awareness, training of health, education and law-enforcement workers.

Early identification and effective management are key to ensuring that people receive the care they need.

Communities also play a critical role in suicide prevention. They can provide social support to vulnerable individuals and engage in follow-up care, fight stigma and support those bereaved by suicide.

Suicide is a complex issue.

Therefore, suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media.

I would like to commend the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection for their full support and commitment in organizing this discussion and bringing all the key stakeholders around the same table.

Together we can work on the development of a whole set of new activities such as helplines, youth advocacy, programs targeting vulnerable groups and community development programs – to help prevent suicides.

Every single life lost to suicide is one too many. The time to act is now.

With awareness, commitment and action, we can save lives. Together.

Thank you!