Representational imageReuters

More than eight lakh people kill themselves every year, says the first global report on suicide, by the World Health Organization (WHO), which was published on Thursday.

The report also said that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds in the world and that 75 percent of the suicides take place in the low or middle income areas of the world.

"This report is a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long" said Dr Margaret Chan, the General Director of the WHO, in a press release.

According to the report, the most common ways of suicide are firearms, hanging and pesticide poisoning. The evidence was taken from a number of countries, and it shows that countries where these resources are found in lesser quantity have lower suicide rates. The research has proved that countries like the US, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Australia, and a few European nations have limited access to these instruments of suicide, and in turn, show lower rates of people killing themselves.

Another way the governments could reduce the number of suicides in their countries, the report chalked out, is by implementing proper coordinated action plans. Right now, there are 28 countries that have implemented such action plans, and have shown a great dip in their suicide numbers.

"No matter where a country currently stands in suicide prevention effective measures can be taken, even just starting at local level and on a small-scale," said Dr Alexandra Fleischmann, Scientist in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. 

The WHO report also said that the suicide rate is the highest in the South-East Asian Region, with India recording the highest number of estimated suicides, in the year 2012. The report also shows a high number of suicides amongst the young and the old age groups.

The report says that 2,58,075 people killed themselves in the year 2012, in India. While 1,58,098 of them were men, 99,977 were women. This means that india accounts for around 20 per cent of the world's suicides.

"This report, the first WHO publication of its kind, presents a comprehensive overview of suicide, suicide attempts and successful suicide prevention efforts worldwide. We know what works. Now is the time to act," Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance abuse at the WHO, told The Economic Times.