‘I could be 100% myself for the first time in my life’ says Veli-Matti Vuorenmaa, who went through a suicide-prevention programme in Helsinki. Photo Credit: Maija Astikainen/The Guardian

Society Finland20. March 2024

The Happiest Country in the World Has Halved Its Suicide Rate

Over the last three decades, Finland managed to half the suicide rate through a series of interventions and initiatives, saving countless lives and finally aligning with the European average.

“Society is better at talking about suicide,” says Harri Sihvola, who trains professionals and others in suicide prevention for Mieli, a suicide prevention center based in Helsinki. “We are getting better all the time. We are preventing more suicides than ever in Finland.”

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, there were 1,512 deaths by suicide in a population of just under 5 million in 1990. In 2022, there were 740 suicides in a population of 5.6 million. The national suicide prevention project that ran from 1986 to 1996 is among the initiatives that helped lower the suicide mortality rate by 13%. Its success is due to improved care for depressive disorder, quicker and earlier detection, and the advent of better treatments. A new prevention project running from 2020 to 2030 is aiming at further lowering suicide rates, partly by improving education for the public, journalists, and healthcare providers. Open since 1972, Mieli, an NGO that provides support to those who have attempted suicide and runs a 24-hour crisis helpline, teaches the Linity technique – also known as Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Programme, or ASSIP – a method specifically targeted at those who have attempted suicide.

The Guardian

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