Introduction

In considering the treatment and prevention of suicidal behaviour it is important to take account of recent trends in suicide and attempted suicide, particularly in individual countries. These have been reviewed in other chapters in this section. While the term 'attempted suicide' is being used in this chapter it is important to recognize that this includes any acts of non-fatal self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of the motive or intention. It is known, for example, that in many cases the primary aim is not death but some other outcome, such as demonstrating distress to other people, seeking a change in other people's behaviour, or temporary escape/.1.) Treatment and prevention strategies must be considered with this in mind.

Suicide prevention has been incorporated within the World Health Organization Health for All strategy (2) and has received substantial support from the United Nations.(3) In recent years several countries have developed national suicide prevention programmes.(4) Increased suicide rates in young people have probably been a stimulus behind this trend. However, suicide rates in most countries remain higher in older people than in younger people and prevention programmes must include this increasingly large sector of society.

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