1.4m people worldwide lose lives to violence: new WHO report

KARACHI: Each year, nearly 1.4 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. This corresponds to over 3,800 people killed every day. Violence is a significant public health, human rights and human development problem.

According to World Health Organization’s new report, of those killed by violence, 58% die by their own hand, 36% because of injuries inflicted by another person, and 6% as a direct result of war or some other form of collective violence. The report said 90% of deaths due to violence occur in low- and middle-income countries.

For every person who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. Violence places a massive burden on national economies, costing countries billions of US dollars each year in health care, law enforcement and lost productivity. WHO works with partners to prevent violence through scientifically credible strategies.

Countries with higher levels of economic inequality tend to have higher rates of death due to violence. Within countries, the highest death rates occur among people living in the poorest communities.

Violence mainly impacts young, economically productive people. Homicide and suicide are heavy contributors to global death rates among men aged 15–44 years. For every young person killed by violence, an estimated 20–40 receive injuries that require hospital treatment. Among people under 25 years, for every suicide, 100 young people attempt to take their own lives.

The health impact of violence is not limited to physical injury. Long-term effects can include depression, mental disorders, suicide attempts, chronic pain syndromes, unwanted pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Children who are victims of violence have a higher risk of alcohol and drug misuse, smoking, and high-risk sexual behaviour. This may lead, even decades later, to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer and sexually-transmitted infections.

Violence is preventable and its impacts can be reduced. Proven and promising violence prevention strategies address underlying causes such as low levels of education, harsh and inconsistent parenting, concentrated poverty, unemployment and social norms supportive of violence. Outcome evaluation research is needed to test these strategies in low- and middle-income countries.

People can benefit from violence prevention programs in schools. Proven and promising violence prevention strategies focused on individuals include pre-school enrichment programs during early childhood (ages 3-5 years), life skills training and social development programs for children aged 6-18 years, and assisting high-risk adolescents and young adults to complete schooling and pursue courses of higher education and vocational training.
Promoting positive, nurturing relationships within families can prevent violence. Proven and promising violence prevention strategies focused on families include providing training for parents on child development, non-violent discipline and problem-solving skills; promoting parental involvement in the lives of children and adolescents through programs to develop home-school partnerships; and mentoring programs to develop attachments between high risk youth and caring adults in order to build social skills and provide a sustained relationship.
Community programs can play a role in preventing violence. Proven and promising violence prevention strategies focused on communities include increasing the availability and quality of childcare facilities, school-based programs to address gender norms and attitudes, and improving school settings, including teacher practices, school policies and security.

Societies can prevent violence by reducing risks such as alcohol, guns, and economic and gender inequality. Proven and promising violence prevention strategies that address societal factors include reducing alcohol availability and misuse through enactment and enforcement of liquor licensing laws, taxation and pricing; reducing access to lethal means, including guns, knives and pesticides; and promoting gender equality by for instance supporting the economic empowerment of women.

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