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Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equals one suicide every 40 seconds. Unfortunately, the statistics are not looking to be on a downward streak anytime soon.
Every life lost represents someone's partner, spouse, child, parent, friend, or colleague. For each suicide, approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are incredibly impacted by suicidal behavior. For every suicide, 25 people make an attempt to take their own life, and many more have serious thoughts about suicide.
Suicide is the result of the combination of genetic, psychological, social, cultural, and other risk factors, that are sometimes combined with experiences of trauma or loss. People who take their own lives usually have unique, complex, and multifaceted causes and influences that lead up to the final act. This can create a challenge in preventing suicide, according to psychological experts. However, these challenges can be overcome by adopting a multilevel and cohesive approach to suicide prevention.
Everyone and anyone can make a contribution in preventing suicide. Anyone can make a difference - as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, friend, colleague, or as a neighbor. There are many things that people can do daily to help prevent suicide, including partaking in World Suicide Prevention Day, which occurs every year on September 10.
World Suicide Prevention Day aims to prevent suicidal behavior. It hopes to raise awareness about the issue, stop the stigma surrounding it, educate the public about the causes and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress, and it encourages everyone to speak up to share their own experiences.
Every World Suicide Prevention Day has a theme, and this year the theme is "Working Together to Prevent Suicide." This theme will actually be retained for World Suicide Prevention Day in 2019 and 2020.
Organizers at the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) have chosen this theme as it highlights the most essential part for effective global suicide prevention, which is collaboration. Everyone has a role to play, and together we can collectively address the challenges presented by suicidal behavior in society today.
World Suicide Prevention Day also is a time to acknowledge all who experience the challenges of suicidal ideation, and those who have lost loved ones through suicide. It's heartbreaking to know that there are many people out there struggling in silence, and many out there who will lose their courageous fight against suicide and mental health. It must be stopped. It must no longer be silenced. It must no longer be shamed.
On September 10, join many organizations and communities across the world to show your support. Take part in the annual IASP Cycle Around the Globe, where they encourage their participants to collectively cycle around the globe! This can take part in groups, individually, at home, in the gym, or anywhere!
People can also take part in the Light a Candle event, in which participants are invited to Light a Candle near a window at 8pm on World Suicide Prevention Day as a symbol of support for suicide prevention, and in memory of the lives lost.
People can also participate simply by joining the social media movement. Connect with organizations, such as the IASP, or the World Health Organization, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube to share support of World Suicide Prevention Day 2019.
You can also participate in World Suicide Prevention Day by starting in your own community. Do you see someone who is struggling? Educate yourself on the various risk factors. Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Risk factors can't cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they are so important to be aware of:
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Job, or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support, and a sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide - in real life, or via the media and internet
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime, 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255
*Talking about want to die or kill themselves
*Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, or buying a gun
*Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
*Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
*Talking about being a burden to others
*Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
*Sleeping too little or too much
*Withdrawing or isolating themselves
*Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
*Extreme mood swings
It takes work to prevent suicide, but it can be done. The positive benefits of this work are infinite and sustainable, and can have a massive impact. The work of preventing suicide can affect not only those in distress, but also their loved ones, those working in the area, and society as a whole.
Joining together is crucial to preventing suicide. Preventing this requires the efforts of many people, including family members, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, political officials, and governmental organizations. Suicide prevention requires strategies that can be implemented immediately, and that encompass work at the individual, systems, and community level.
Research suggests that suicide prevention efforts will be much more effective if they span multiple levels and incorporate multiple interventions. This requires the involvement of interventions that occur in communities and involve social and policy reforms, as well as interventions that are delivered directly to the person.
One of the most important things to remember is that suicidal behavior is universal. It knows no boundaries and can affect anyone at any given time period. The millions of people affected each year by suicide, suicidal behavior, and other mental health illnesses have exclusive insight and unique voices. Their experiences are invaluable for informing suicide prevention measures and influencing the provision of supports for suicidal people, and those around them.
Once we understand the issues concerning suicide and mental health, we can then take part in the prevention, help those in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide. We believe that hope can happen because suicide is not inevitable for anyone. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives.
We believe that we can all take action in some way. Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can do to help others and make a difference.
We believe that crisis centers are critical and by offering immediate counseling to anyone that may need it, provides invaluable support at these very difficult times. Local crisis centers can connect individuals to local services, and keep reminding them to keep going, keep hoping, and keep hanging on.
To anyone out there who is struggling, or knows someone who's struggling; reach out and ask for help. It's okay, you're okay. Your life is beautiful. You matter. You're loved. Keep going, you have so many reasons to. Remember, if you kill yourself, you're also killing the people who love you.
When you feel like giving up, when fear is crashing in, close your eyes and remember why you've held on for so long. If you're looking for a sign that you should stay alive, this is it. You have a purpose. You may not know it yet, and that's okay, but if you don't stick around to find out, you'll never know.
If you look deep within yourself, you'll find and see a spark. A spark that leads to a fire. That fire is your will to live. Find it and embrace it. Find your true strength and know that there is a reason to stay, so please stay. The world wouldn't be the same without you.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime, 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255