KARACHI: The Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL), the National Centre for Research on Suicide Prevention, the Health Department Government of Sindh, and the University of Manchester are proudly launching the Suicide Prevention First Aid Guidelines in Sindh. The ceremony will be held on Sep 23rd, 2023 at a local Hotel in Karachi. Dr Saad Khalid Niaz, Minister of Health, Social Welfare and Public Health Engineering, Government of Sindh, will be our Chief Guest for the event. Clinicians, research scientists, healthcare professionals, service users, community leaders, and members of the Sindh Health Department will also be in attendance.
Suicide is a major global health concern that affects individuals, families, and communities. Globally, 700,000 suicide-related deaths are reported each year, however a significant majority of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries such as Pakistan. In addition to the deaths, many attempt to end their lives each year which leads to poor mental health outcomes for the individuals and their loved ones who continue to suffer in silence. Given the individual, societal, and economic impact, it is worth emphasising that fortunately, suicide is preventable. Cultural prejudices and stigma often hinder the support that these individuals and families deserve. Engaging in a simple, supportive conversation with someone around you who is suicidal can have a profound impact and might help save a life.
In a landmark attempt to promote suicide prevention in Pakistan, we have developed the Suicide Prevention First Aid Guidelines to provide a comprehensive resource to support at-risk individuals. It offers guidance on early identification, risk factors, engaging in effective dialogue, recognising the signs, strategies to mitigate the risk of suicide, and developing a safety plan. The role of the first aider is to provide support to the person until they receive appropriate professional help or until the crisis is resolved. Overall, the goal of these guidelines is to encourage the general public to play an active role in preventing suicides. As part of a collective national effort, we envisage that this initiative will address a major unmet need, foster community support, eliminate barriers, and advocate for systemic changes to aid suicide prevention in Pakistan.