This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme ‘Creating hope through action’ is a reminder that suicide prevention is a public health priority and urgent action is required to make sure mortality rates are reduced.

This statement was made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September every year.

The MOH conducted a one-week awareness on Tanna to mark this year’s event.

The awareness team with key stakeholders visited 10 communities, reaching over 400 students on Tanna.

“The theme is a call for action to everyone, what we can do to reduce the suicide mortality rate in Vanuatu because it has now become a public health problem,” the MOH stated.

“The suicide prevention awareness aimed to draw everyone’s attention to the issues of and issues related to suicide and what can be done in communities, schools, churches, government and non-government agencies, reduce stigma about mental health which is an important risk factor because people don’t want to seek help and raising awareness on this one single key message that ‘Suicide is Preventable.’”

Vanuatu recently recorded an increase in the number of deaths related to self- harm and suicide over the past years, the MOH conveyed.

“According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2020, fifty-four (54) suicide deaths were recorded in Vanuatu,” the Ministry disclosed.

“This means out of all deaths, 2.70% is caused by self-harm and suicide. The age-adjusted death rate is 20.97 per 100,000 of population ranks Vanuatu 3 in Pacific and 13 in the world.

“Suicide is a major public health problem with far-reaching social, emotional and economic consequences. It is estimated that there are currently more than 700 000 suicides per year worldwide, and we know that each suicide profoundly affects many more people.”

“Creating Hope through Action” is the triennial theme for the World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021-2023.

“This theme serves as a powerful call to action and reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and that through our actions we can encourage hope and strengthen prevention,” the MOH stated.

“By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them.

“It also suggests that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.”

The MOH assured that the WHO will continue to work with partners to support countries to take concrete measures.

The Vanuatu-Australian Health Partnership is also acknowledged for its financial support.