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What is a human life worth?

Investing in suicide prevention pays off

Suicide has a horrendous impact on the victim's family, friends, colleagues and the professionals involved. There is pain, sadness, loss of quality and joy of life. Suicide prevention and early detection is therefore important. It prevents a lot of personal suffering. But it also saves society a lot of expenses. Supported by the Deloitte Impact Foundation, Deloitte analyzed the social costs of suicide for the 113 Suicide Prevention Foundation. “The fact that Deloitte is selflessly supporting us is extremely valuable,” says Monique Kavelaars, Chairman of the Board of Directors at 113 Suicide Prevention Foundation. “Only together can suicide be prevented.”

“It is inhumane to wonder what a human life is worth,” says Rob Dubbeldeman, Partner at Deloitte Consulting and responsible for the Public Sector. “But, in addition to terrible personal suffering, every suicide entails social costs. From ambulance to police and from counseling for relatives to loss of human capital. By mapping out these costs, the economic benefits of prevention and early detection become immediately clear. For 2020, we estimate the total social costs of suicides in the Netherlands at no less than 5 billion euros. Investing in prevention pays off, that's an important message for Deloitte. Our Dutch healthcare system is too often curative. Doctors are paid for the treatment performed and institutions receive money for emergency services provided. But financing for prevention is a lot more difficult to obtain. Even though a suicide is very impactful, for people and society.”

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Nederlandse vertaling

The wave motion is unprecedented

Unfortunately, Rob knows first-hand how much of an impact suicide has. “My wife committed suicide ten years ago. The wave motion that such a horrific incident creates is unprecedented. Its intensity will have a long aftermath. Not only for immediate family, but also for friends and colleagues,” he says. “Of course, from my personal experience, I have a strong belief that prevention is extremely important. But mental well-being is also very important for an employer like Deloitte. My wife worked at a large corporate, a company much like Deloitte. It is possible we also have colleagues who are mentally out of balance. As an employer, it is our job to keep our eyes and ears open for this. With the Deloitte Impact Foundation, we have been selflessly supporting the 113 Suicide Prevention Foundation with our knowledge and expertise for several years now. Together we can break the taboo on talking about mental imbalance.”

Daring to talk about it

“Deloitte has an important exemplary role”, Monique continues. “That's why it's so valuable that the Deloitte Impact Foundation shares our vision and endorses the importance of prevention. It is about acknowledging, recognizing and daring to take the step to talk about it. Five people die by suicide every day in the Netherlands, and no less than 60 percent of them are not in sight of healthcare at that time. Talking about it via our online chat or with our helpers who are available 24/7 on 113 is important to be able to offer perspective in the endless tunnel. Anyone can learn how to have a conversation about suicide, 113 has developed an online training course for this. And to stimulate this conversation, we started the public campaign 1K Z1E J3. But we can do a lot more and that costs money.” 

Achieving structural, solid financing

With Deloitte's research, 113 Suicide Prevention Foundation hopes to achieve structural, solid financing. “The results give a clear signal. Everyone knows that the psychological suffering after a suicide is indescribable. But I did not expect that the economic consequences could also amount to more than 5 billion euros per year, 2.8 million euros per suicide. We believe that investing in safety is the most normal thing in the world. But three times more people die of suicide every year than there are road casualties. It’s about time that we also invest enough in mental well-being.” 

The Deloitte Impact Foundation

Through the Deloitte Impact Foundation, Deloitte is committed to bring a positive impact to society. We share our core competences, knowledge and network in societal initiatives to make an impact in the fields of education & employment, sustainability and inclusive society. Read more about the Deloitte Impact Foundation and view our other initiatives.

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