The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s top health official
commended the World Health Organization for its first-ever report on suicide,
which offers statistics and action steps for promoting suicide prevention as a
higher priority on the global public health agenda.
Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries director for the
Adventist Church, said the stigma of suicide could be reduced with more
awareness in society and in religious organizations, which would allow people
to seek help more readily.
“We need to talk about it, we need to be available for
people to see the church as a safe haven, so if they feel hopeless they can
come find hope in Jesus Christ and renewed purpose,” Landless said. “That’s
what we as a church are all about.”
Landless said church members and leaders can support the
effort by recognizing depression, setting an example by living a balanced
lifestyle, and urging people to refrain from consuming recreational substances,
including alcohol, in order to maintain mental health and emotional well-being.
Landless led a five-member Adventist delegation to the
release ceremony at the WHO headquarters in Geneva this month. The other
members were Valerie DuFour, Health Ministries director for the Adventist Church’s
Inter-European Division; Dr. Bernard Davy, medical director of the La Lignière Clinic
in Switzerland; Dr. Carlos Fayard, professor of psychiatry at Loma Linda
University; and Beverly Buckles, dean of Behavioral Health Sciences at Loma
The WHO report, titled “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative,”
describes itself as “a global knowledge base on suicide and suicide attempts to
guide governments, policymakers and relevant stakeholders,” and it offers evidence-based
action steps that countries can take based on their own context and available resources.
“With timely and effective evidence-based interventions,
treatment and support, both suicides and suicide attempts can be prevented,”
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement.
WHO report “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative,” (available
in eight languages)