GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The number of suicides by young people has fallen steadily in Geneva over the past 10 years and in 2010 the figure reached less than 2 per 100,000. Prevention is the key, according to the HUG university hospitals, which 10 September hosted a meeting on suicide prevention among young adults.
Suicide is the main cause of death of young people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the hospital, but it’s important not to stigmatize it: an attempted suicide in adolescence does not mean there is a greater risk of psychiatric trouble later in life.
The HUG in 2011 it was involved in 190 youth suicide situations, with one in five of them leading to an attempted suicide.
Each of the cases involved an assessment and either in-patient treatment or outpatient, under the care of the Centre de traitement ambulatoire intensif (CTAI). The CTAI had close to 250 young patients in total during the year.
Prevention efforts involve a strong network to make sure there is a safety net for young people, who in their isolation don’t often turn directly to those around them. But teachers, psychologists, family, friends and others are often the first to realize the extent of the risk, and the HUG’s pioneering efforts to work with them lies behind the fall in attempted suicide numbers.
The Fondation Children Action has spent some CHF10.5 million since 1996 when with the HUG it created the Unité de crise et du centre d’étude et de prévention du suicide (CEPS). The Ceps has set up HelpAdoLine, a permanent emergency call centre that received more than 300 phone calls in 2011. It also has a web site, preventionsuicide.ch and it works in close collaboration with the site ciao.ch.