Every year, more than 700,000 people take their own life, and many more attempt or consider suicide (WHO). This epidemic has affected families, communities, and entire countries throughout the world, and has become the fourth leading cause of death among people ages 15-29. This year on World Suicide Prevention Day, we aim to “Create Hope Through Action”, and bring awareness to the steps we can take globally to prevent suicide.
The stigma surrounding mental health disorders and suicide makes it all the more difficult for people considering taking their own life to ask for the help they need. In many countries, these topics are not openly discussed, and suicidal thoughts and actions are even criminalized in some areas. Few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities, with only 38 countries (WHO) having a national suicide prevention strategy. Changing the narrative around suicide and mental health is a crucial step in this fight, and encouraging understanding will create a more compassionate society. With this change, those that suffer from mental health illnesses or suicidal contemplation will feel more comfortable reaching out and get the help they need.
By sharing experiences and opening up about our own mental health struggles, the world becomes a safer place for those struggling to reach out. Especially in times of extreme distress or crisis, letting someone know they are not alone and giving them hope that they can move through this moment could be the catalyst to changing the outcome of their life. In a similar sense, those who have experienced suicidal loss and share their stories can offer a great deal to others experiencing the same.
While sharing our own stories and struggles is vital, it is perhaps even more important that multiple sectors of society work in collaboration to reduce and prevent suicides. This includes the health sector, as well as education, labor, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide. (WHO)
Suicide affects all of us, and as numbers continue to rise annually, it is important to take action by raising awareness and reducing the stigma around suicide. World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to promote action through proven means that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.
Spread awareness. Every struggle is real. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and provides free and confidential emotional support to people in crisis or emotional distress. We can all be the catalyst for suicide prevention awareness.