The mental health of our society

mental disorders

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sanem ERGEN, a second year medical student at Istanbul University. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The World Health Organisation reported that approximately 800.000 people lose their lives due to suicide every year. This fact means that in every 40 seconds one person dies because of suicide. The WHO estimates that the number of deaths due to suicide will be more than 1.000.000 in 2030. Moreover, when the suffering of the families, relatives, friends and colleagues of persons who die from suicide is considered, it is undeniable that suicide and mental health is a huge public health issue.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years in the year 2016. It is estimated that around 20% of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning. Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.

WHO considers suicide as a public health priority. The first WHO World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative”, published in 2014. It aims to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies in a multi-sectoral public health approach. In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10% by 2020.

Mental disorders have become widespread in recent years. Indeed, it is mostly associated with the high stress level of modern lives including problems about jobs, financial problems, relationship problems etc.  In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners. By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

Mental health is a prior issue and mental disorders such as suicidal behaviours are preventable. Reducing access to the means of suicide can be a way to do that. Also, reporting by media in a responsible way, school based interventions, early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, giving people who have mental disorder a proper job and making them feel useful for the society, follow-up care for people who attempted suicide are examples of prevention methods.

The most important thing is to start a mental improvement in society. There must be routine controls for every person just like routine vaccinations or tests. It would not be difficult to make people come visit a mental counsellor at least one time in a year. The people who have mental disorders or had before, must be under observation even if the treatment is over or the patient feels well.

In conclusion, mental health is a significant public health issue and suicides affect the society in many ways. Therefore, we need to prevent the mental disorders and suicide attempts to save the lives of people who suffer from mental illnesses and the lives of the families, relatives, friends of these people. We must accomplish this aim to have a mentally healthy society.


The British Journal of Psychiatry Volume 183Issue 5 November 2003 , pp. 382-383

Suicide within 12 months of contact with mental health services: national clinical survey

About the author

Sanem ERGEN was born on 09.03.1999 and has graduated from Kabatas High School. At present, she studies at Istanbul University, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine and is a first grade student. She lives in Istanbul, Turkey. In the year 2015, she has visited USA and stayed in Texas for nearly two months. She had a chance to addend a clerkship in a research laboratory. She also visited Math teacher's classes. Therefore, she improved her language and observed a researching study. She also writes poems and short stories, is experienced in English and Turkish debates and knows sign language and German.












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