18.4  Suicide prevention

Around 3% of the adult population (1.2 million people in Ethiopia) have thought about killing themselves at some time. Suicide is a tragedy and has a very big effect on the family and community. Although it is not always possible to prevent a person from committing suicide, you can help to reduce the risk of it happening. The key ways that you can help to prevent suicide are listed in Box 18.2

Box 18.2  Ways to help to prevent suicide

  • Know how to assess the risk of suicide (see Study Session 10).
  • Help people who have attempted suicide (See Study Session 10).
  • Help people with depression and psychosis to get early treatment so that their suffering is reduced. This will reduce the risk of suicide. Also make sure you screen for suicidal ideas in this high-risk group.
  • Help people with an alcohol, khat or cannabis problem to get treatment (see Study Session 14). It is important to ask about suicidal ideas, and also to screen for depression, as this increases the risk of suicide in this group.
  • Improve people’s coping strategies. Educating the community about ‘helpful coping strategies’ (see Section 18.1.4 above) may help to reduce the chance that they will turn to suicide if they experience a very stressful event.

18.3.2  Getting early treatment for mental illness

18.5  Tertiary prevention: reducing the negative impact of mental illness