Last 10th of September was World Suicide Prevention Day, something that has been conmemorated since 2003. However, by means of our documentary and our broadcast channels, we would like to raise awareness about that public health problematic throughout the entire year.
The documentary The Buried Word (La Palabra Maldita) analizes the suicide phenomenon, from different points of view, in order to find answers focused on its prevention. Last 10th of September, we shared in the media the reason why this documentary started and its main purpose: the creation of a Spanish National Suicide Prevention Plan. A comprehensive plan with all the measures and necessary means to decrease suicide rates in Spain. Thankfully, an increasing number of media are open to talk about suicide and want to learn how to better inform about it so they become prevention agents. We all learn everyday.
Suicide is a devastating public health problem that affects individuals, families and the entire society. We are aware that the administrations of other countries have taken measures that have helped reduce the number of deaths. These experiences give us hope, because we know that in many cases suicide is preventable.
Historically, the suicide rate in Denmark was the highest in the world until the Country government adopted measures and strategies to reverse this situation. One of the most effective tactics was to restrict the access to some prescribed drugs (such as barbiturics and opioids) and foster the use of antidepressants with less toxicity such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Other measures included: more restrictions to firearms access and their ammunitions, creation of clinics to provide therapy and support to people with suicidal risk. They also enabled ambulances with psychiatrists to intervene in critical situations as well as suicide prevention helplines answered by trained volunteers. Nowadays, suicide rates in Denmark have decreased to 10 per 100.000 inhabitants, an equal rate to other EU countries such as Portugal or Ireland.
Sweden and the «zero suicide» policy.
48 countries currently have national suicide prevention strategies. Sweeden is one of them with the most ambitious goal: a “ Zero Suicide” policy. This strategy centers in achieving that nobody gets in such a vulnerable situation that makes them consider suicide as their only answer. The Sweedish Public Health Agency has created this policy, consensually approved in the Parliament , because many Sweedish political parties wanted to solve the serious problem that is suicide. The areas of action of the plan are centered in improving the opportunities for less privileged groups, reduce alcohol consumption in the population, reduce access to means and methods that could be potentially used for suicide and to foster the view of suicide as a psychological matter to be treated by psychologists.
In this sense, Sweden has focused on increasing the social worker´s habilities to identify suicidal tendencies and its causes in order to be more capable of implementing preventive measures. Moreover, there is a great support from the public sector as well as from the private sector to NGOs dedicated to prevent this problem.
The main success of this policy has been the erradication of the stigma around suicide in Sweden, here we can achieve it too.
Spain needs a National Prevention Plan.
Everyday 10 people die by suicide in Spain, and it is estimated that 200 people attempt it. Currently we continue without a National Suicide Prevention Plan despite WHO recomendations. The Spanish Chamber of Representatives (Congreso de los Diputados), through its Health Comittee has also proposed the creation of a Plan in two occassions (2012 and 2017)
At the moment, only some Autonomical Communities have started working in prevention in an active way. One of the first ones was Navarre in 2014, with its protocol in prevention and actuation in suicidal conducts . In the Valencian Community, the Valencian government approved in 2017 its “Suicidal Prevention and Suicidal Conduct Management Plan” («Plan de Prevención del Suicidio y Manejo de la Conducta Suicida») and many other communities have put in place other public policies in this direction.
Suicide is preventable. We have already reduced deaths by road accidents and gender violence. La palabra maldita wants to raise awareness about this reality that can affect anyone at some point in their lives.