For information only - not an official document

10 October 2019

President, International Narcotics Control Board, Cornelis P. de Joncheere:

Statement on World Mental Health Day

10 October 2019

VIENNA, 10 October (UN Information Service) - On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) wishes to add its voice to the importance of suicide prevention, and draw attention to the use of drugs as a risk factor for suicide attempts, and to the importance of access to medicines to treat mental health disorders.  

World Mental Health Day 2019 is focused on suicide prevention. Every year some 800,000 people die due to suicide; many more people attempt suicide; almost 80 per cent of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. 

As the World Health Organization (WHO) and suicide prevention groups note, mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress are risk factors associated with suicide attempts.

INCB reiterates the importance of preventing drug abuse and treating drug dependence as key to protecting people's health, in particular for the most vulnerable among us.

The Board also notes that certain medicines, under control and used under medical supervision, can help a person who is suffering from severe pain or emotional distress, and provide relief and potentially prevent them from considering suicide.

In its recent reports, INCB has drawn attention to the inadequate availability of internationally controlled substances for the purposes of palliative care and the treatment of anxiety and mental health disorders. Addressing the lack of availability of internationally controlled substances, particularly in middle and low-income countries, is essential in order to alleviate the suffering of people, as well as help to prevent suicide.

One of the recognized measures to prevent suicide is to ensure that people who are at risk have timely access to appropriate medical and mental health support - which may include the use of pain medication, and of psychotropic medicines. Another recognized measure is the early identification, treatment and care of people affected by substance use disorders; this is also specifically included as a requirement of the international drug control conventions.

This year on World Mental Health Day, we are reflecting on the progress in ensuring availability of controlled substances while preventing their diversion and abuse but also on the work left to be done. INCB is committed to continuing to support State Parties in their efforts to achieve the aims of the international drug control conventions - in terms of preventing drug abuse and ensuring availability of needed medicines - and, by doing so, contribute to preventing suicide.


INCB is the independent, quasi-judicial body charged with promoting and monitoring Government compliance with the three international drug control conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the thirteen members of the Board are elected in a personal capacity by the Economic and Social Council for terms of five years.

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For further information, please contact:

INCB Secretariat
Telephone for media inquiries: (+43-1) 26060 4163
Email:  incb.secretariat[at]