PAHO Launches Virtual Course on Suicide Prevention for Primary Healthcare Workers

WASHINGTON, United States, Wednesday September 12, 2018 – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched a virtual course to improve the identification, evaluation, management and monitoring of suicidal behavior in order to prevent suicide and save lives.

The course, ‘Preventing self-harm/suicide: Empowering primary healthcare providers’ was launched on World Suicide Prevention Day, on Monday.

Around 100,000 people commit suicide each year in the Americas, and it is estimated that for each suicide that occurs, there are more than 20 attempts. Suicide can occur at any age and it is the third highest cause of death among young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in the region.

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.

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

It is estimated that most people who commit suicide visit a primary healthcare provider one month before their death. This means that “the early detection of people with suicidal behavior, and the effective management of this is essential to ensuring they receive the timely care they require,” added Cayetano.

Introduction to self-harm and suicide, clinical presentations, the assessment, monitoring and prevention strategies are some of the topics to be addressed during the online training.

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, PAHO said. 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.

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