If left unaddressed, mental illness is set to cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030.
On October 10, World Mental Health Day, the UK became the first country in the world to appointment a minster for suicide prevention. The position was given to the country’s current minister for health—a conservative MP called Jackie Doyle-Price.”We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence,” said British prime minister Theresa May. “We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.”
Suicide is an increasingly important health issue on a global scale. On the same day as the position was announced, 28 global experts assembled by The Lancet—a weekly medical journal—at a global health summit in London, said that mental health is an international issue. If left unaddressed, it’s set to cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. The experts emphasized the global collective failure to address the severity of the mental health crisis “results in monumental loss of human capabilities and avoidable suffering.”
Psychological disorders have “dramatically risen” around the world in the last 25 years, according to Dr. Vikram Patel of Harvard Medical School, who was one of the experts behind The Lancet’s findings. Patel described the global mental health situation as “extremely bleak,” chiming with a recent World Health Organization report stating it should be explicitly included in global policy as suicide kills more young people than any other cause worldwide.
In the face of such a global threat, the announcement of a UK minster for suicide prevention was welcomed by most, but the news came with some backlash. Soon after Doyle-Price was named, reporters managed to dig up old jokes made by her to the MP’s local newspaper. When asked if she would ever defect from her political party to a further-right leaning party, she replied, “I’d rather jump off Beachy Head.” Meant as a throw-away remark perhaps, Beachy Head is a notorious suicide spot in on the coast of South East England. Around 20 people a year die at the spot, and safety patrols have been set up to guard the spot. According to Sky News: “A Downing Street source said he was not aware of the comments, but added, ‘There is a serious job she will be taking forward in this very important new position’.”
If you are worried about the issue of mental health or suicide The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org