This Thursday, September 10, 2015 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Actually, September is National Suicide Prevention month. Because of this, I would like to take a little time to write about suicide since it is one of those topics that is still pretty taboo in most circles. We rarely even think about it until it affects us personally, professionally, or if we happen to see a news headline about it. However, I was surprised to find out, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), that
- Every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally among young people ages 15-29
- It’s not just a “rich person with no real problems” phenomenon or a problem in developed countries because “most suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries”
- Approximately 804,000 suicides occurred worldwide in 2012 but since suicide is often under-reported or misclassified (deaths that may have actually been suicides are sometimes misclassified as an accident or different cause of death), this number may actually be much higher
- Surprisingly, both men and women 70 years of age and older have a higher rate of suicide than other age groups throughout most of the world
WHO has implemented a Mental Health Action Plan that aims to reduce suicide worldwide by 10% by the year 2020 and I definitely encourage you to check out their “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative” brochure. Drawing from the information I gathered from WHO’s website, other online resources, and just my own 2 cents, I’ve come up with a few simple things that can help each of us work towards reducing the global suicide rate in our daily lives:
- Educate yourself about suicide risk factors, signs, and facts. This post doesn’t even skim the surface of the multitude of information available about suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and HelpGuide.Org are great places to start to understand suicide, identify someone who is at-risk, and learn how to help a loved one that may considering taking their own life.
- Don’t perpetuate the “all suicidal people are weak or crazy” stigma when discussing suicide (such as in the news) when talking with friends, coworkers, and family members. You never know if someone in your midst is going through a difficult time. It’s a lot harder for people to reach out for help when they feel they will be ridiculed or not taken seriously.
- Take care of yourself. Even if you’ve never struggled with mental illness and are very resilient when life throws curveballs your way, never be afraid to reach out for help if you think you may need it. Talking about your feelings with someone that will support you can make a seemingly unbearable situation a lot more bearable. Eating well and exercising can do wonders for your outlook as well!
As in the words of Mr. Stevie Wonder, it’s my hope that “everything is alright, uptight, outta sight” for all of my positively optimistic & powerful readers out there. If it is, I’m hoping you show the people around you that you love them and support them on this World Suicide Prevention Day and everyday thereafter!
If you are in a crisis and are unsure where to turn, hit up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). According to their website, someone will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.