PAHO launches virtual course on suicide prevention

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is launching a virtual course on suicide prevention for primary healthcare workers in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

It said “Preventing self-harm/suicide: Empowering primary healthcare providers,” will coincide with the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday.

PAHO said an estimated 100,000 people commit suicide each year in the Americas, and that for each suicide that occurs, there are more than 20 attempts.

It said suicide can occur at any age, and that it is the third highest cause of death among young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in the region.

PAHO said the course, which is free, self-directed and available in English on PAHO’s Virtual Campus for Public Health, “seeks to strengthen the capacities of primary healthcare professionals in identifying, evaluating and improving the approach towards suicidal behaviours in patients.”

Interested parties can access the course from September `17, when the platform is made available to the general public, PAHO said.

“Suicide can be prevented and primary healthcare personnel have an important role to play in the prevention, early detection and management of suicidal behaviour,” said Claudina Cayetano, Regional Advisor on Mental Health at PAHO.

PAHO said it is estimated that most people who commit suicide visit a primary healthcare provider one month before their death.

Cayetano said this means the “early detection of people with suicidal behaviour, and the effective management of this is essential to ensuring they receive the timely care they require”.

PAHO said the course is divided into seven modules and is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intervention Guide for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders (mhGAP-IG) that includes evidence-based interventions to identify and manage priority mental health disorders, including self-inflicted injuries and suicide at the first level of health care.

“Knowledge about suicidal behaviour has increased exponentially in recent decades yet suicide continues to be a low priority when it comes to public health actions. It is expected that the new course will lead to more health personnel in the region that are trained in the early identification of mental health problems and in the prevention of suicide,” PAHO said.

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