WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. mental health experts say cultural elements can help prevent some of the estimated 1 million suicides that occur worldwide each year.
The World Health Organization in Switzerland estimates about 1 million people worldwide die by their own hands each year, but the International Association for Suicide Prevention in Washington says there have been positive outcomes from its tailored approaches to suicide prevention.
Dr. Lanny Berman, the association's president, says the restriction of the sale of charcoal in supermarket chains in Hong Kong resulted in a significant reduction in the number of suicides by poisoning from charcoal burning.
In addition, a concerted community response to suicide prevention at a district level shows a positive impact on rates of deliberate self-harm and suicide, Berman says.
"We now have good evidence that suicide rates are reduced substantially when leaders make preventing suicide a central focus for their entire systems, such as in the U.S. Air Force," Berman says in a statement.
"We also know that significant reductions in rates of suicide and suicide attempts have been found when programs aimed at improving recognition and care of depression are implemented."
In Australia, stricter firearm legislation coincided with a significant reduction in the number of firearm suicides, and, in England, restricted access through altered packaging of over-the-counter medicines resulted in a reduction in the number of deaths by intentional overdose, Berman adds.
"These few examples demonstrate that if we take into account cultural elements, we can make great strides in the advancement of suicide prevention, understanding and practice," Berman says.