World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 – by Dr Shafe

World Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.

Preventing suicide involves multiple actions or goals to reduce the risk associated with suicide. This may include individual, social, family, occupational factors. The identification of these factors would often be significant in targeting resources at perceived triggers.  The suicide prevention movement started half a century ago but a lot is still unknown about why people would want to kill themselves, despite historical taboos.

In the 19th Century Emile Durkheim associated suicide risk as being mainly social factors.  In that period, history of suicide revolved around courts, church, press, morals and society. Suicide became a moral affliction that was to be attended to not just by police, but also by physicians and subsequently mental health professionals.

The evolution of scientific research has not provided satisfactory explanation as to the course of suicidal behaviour in many situations. The current structural diagnostic manual, DSM and ICD have associated this behaviour to many mental health disorders, example depression and personality disorder.  However, there is no explanation for suicidal behaviour in individuals who do not possess the mental health risk factors.  Especially since there are those who do not believe that suicide exist within the individual or that it is neurobiological (Kral, 1998).



As a result of these conflicting views, we can only focus on suicide prevention through appropriate risk assessment and treatment. This prevention method must also be evidence-based that focuses on challenges in the following domains:

  1. Mental health;
  2. Physical health;
  3. Social health;
  4. Occupational health;
  5. Family and relationship health; and
  6. Governmental policy/public education.

The prevention method should be made meaningful through community-based prevention efforts, and other creative ways like family, psychological support, art, music and sport therapy. These efforts will attempt to deconstruct negative schemas to positive ones with overall aim at preventing feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness that may act as precursors to suicide behaviour.

The urgency of prevention is made clearer with reports that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, with a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds (  The suicide rate in Trinidad and Tobago for 2017 was 14.50 per 100000 populations which is among the highest in the region of the Americas (


For more information please contact:

  • Mental Health Unit (Information Center)

285-9126 ext. 2577, 2571, 2573, 2590

  • Mental Health Unit (NCRHA/EWMSC)

625- 3232 ext. 2542

For help please contact:

  • ALIVE (suicide hotline) 688-8525, 650-5270
  • Lifeline, 645-2800 or 800-5588

Or 231-2824 from Digicel or 220-3636 from FLOW