Depression and suicide


In the WHO European Region, depression affects around 40 million people, or 4.3% of the population. Depression limits a person’s ability to fully function at work or school and to cope with daily life. At its worst, it can lead to suicide.

Each year in the Region, 128 000 people commit suicide. Depression is a primary cause of these deaths, and also leads to enormous economic losses; in the European Union, the cost of lost productivity due to depression has been estimated at over €70 billion per year. Yet, 3 out of 4 people who suffer from depression do not receive adequate treatment.

WHO/Europe works to raise awareness of the consequences of depression and self-harm, to reduce stigma and discrimination, and to improve access to health care. It supports countries’ efforts to scale up services for depression in nonspecialized health-care settings as part of an integrated approach to chronic disease management. The 2017 World Health Day campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk” also drew attention to this issue.

Although 77% of European countries declared suicide to be a significant public health concern in a 2013 survey conducted by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and WHO, fewer than 20 European countries are currently known to have a national suicide  prevention strategy.

The WHO European Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020 encourages Member States to develop and implement evidence-based suicide prevention strategies that combine a universal approach with activities to protect vulnerable groups.