WHO alarmed by 3,300 deaths daily due to suicide

The World Health Organization on Monday said it was alarmed by figures showing that over 3,300 people in the Western Pacific region die daily of road traffic accidents, suicide, drowning and other injury-related deaths.

The WHO said in a statement that an estimated 5 million people die every year worldwide from injury-related deaths, including 1.2 million annually in the Western Pacific region, or nearly 3,330 deaths daily.

The Western Pacific covers 48 countries and territories including Australia, the Pacific island countries, Japan, Korea, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The major injury-related causes of deaths in the region are suicide, which claims 343,000 lives yearly, road traffic accidents, which kill 302,000, and drowning, with 171,000 deaths, the WHO said in the statement, adding that it was "alarmed by the magnitude of the problem."

"A business-as-usual approach is no longer acceptable," said Dr. Shigeru Omi, WHO's Western Pacific regional director. "We, as public health professionals, need to address the causes of injuries and injury-related deaths in partnership with other sectors and stakeholders."

According to 2004 data from the WHO Web site, suicide accounts for almost half of all violent deaths worldwide, resulting in almost 1 million fatalities a year. Among countries reporting suicide, the highest rates were found in Eastern Europe and the lowest rates were found mostly in Latin America.

In the Western Pacific, a number of countries such as Fiji, Japan, Korea and the Marshall Islands experienced significant increases in suicide in recent years.

The WHO opened a meeting of national experts in Manila on Monday to discuss future directions for injury and violence prevention programs.

Omi stressed the need to raise public awareness and appealed to political leaders for resources needed to address the problem, reports the AP.

I.L.