September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day

By Sarah Wylde

This article is about a topic that is triggering for some people suicide. I will be talking about statistics, what the day is about, personal experience, and more. If you find this topic triggering, you may not want to read on.

On Thursday, September 10, 2020, it will be World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). Suppose you are wondering what the day is about. In that case, it is a day when people who have been impacted by suicide, those who have survived, organizations, and people from the community come together and bring awareness and renew a commitment and action to prevent suicides. The first WSPD was in 2003 when the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). Each year the prevention day has a theme. For the third year in a row, the theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.” This is the theme again because it is about collaboration. Everyone has a role and only is it together, we can address what needs to be done and the challenges presented by suicidal behavior in society.

This is something that I fully believe in, but I also think it needs to be talked about and highlighted all year round. I recognize that it is more than others in some places, but it should and needs to be something available to talk about and see year-round. I am also a firm believer that Mental Health should be taught in schools, colleges, universities, etc. Also, where is the television channel dedicated to Mental Health and the topics that go with it? I mean, we have a fireplace channel and a channel that is a fish tank, so I think we can have a mental health channel happen.

Here are just some of the alarming statistics about suicide from IASP and TWLOHA

  • Over 800,000 people die by suicide annually, representing 1 person every 40 seconds.
  • Every day in America alone, 20 veterans die by suicide. 
  • For every 1 suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt.
  • 135 people are affected by each suicide death.
  • The rate of suicide is four times greater for LGBTQ+
  • Suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally, account for 1.4% of all deaths.
  • The global suicide rate is 11.4 per 100 000 population.
  • Making it 15.0/100 000 for males.
  • Making it 8.0/100 000 for females.
  • Self-harm predominantly occurs among older adolescents and globally is the 2nd leading cause of death for older adolescent girls.
  • In 25 countries (within WHO member states), suicide is currently still criminalized.
  • In an additional 20 countries, suicide attempters may be punished with jail sentences, according to Sharia law.
  • Suicide is the result of a convergence of risk factors including but not limited to genetic, psychological, social, and cultural risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss.
  • Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in people who die by suicide.
  • This equates to 108 million people bereaved by suicide worldwide every year.
  • Relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide are a high-risk group for suicide, due to the psychological trauma of a suicide loss and potentially shared familial and environmental risk, suicide contagion through the process of social modeling, and the burden of the stigma associated with this loss.
  • Effective suicide prevention strategies need to incorporate public health policy strategies and healthcare strategies. To incorporate measures with the strongest evidence of efficacy, such as restricting access to lethal means, treating depression, ensuring chain of care, and school-based universal prevention.

I know that was a lot of information to throw at you. But it is imperative to know just how high the numbers are. How much this a global issue that needs to be addressed. When you mention the word suicide, people tend to look away and pretend they didn’t hear you. It is such a taboo subject. Sometimes people think that because a person died by suicide, they didn’t seek help or took the easy way out. That could not be further from the truth. Suicide is so often unrecognized and misclassified. There are multiple triggers for people to think it is their only option, like unemployment, financial, loss, legal, various types of abuse, etc. Plus, it doesn’t help that it is not nearly addressed enough in ways of prevention, and this is partially due to the lack of awareness. Having discussions about it and breaking down the taboo wall surrounding suicide and having more community awareness is what is needed to make prevention progress.

I feel this needs to be repeated. People who have died by suicide are not weak, did not take the easy way out, and there is an excellent chance they did have or seek help. 

I have experience with both sides of suicide. I have had classmates die by suicide. I have stood by friends who have lost people. I also am a person who used to self-harm and suicidal ideation. See, suicide is not the only suicidal behavior. It also includes suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. What is suicidal ideation? It is thinking about, considering, planning your suicide. Through therapy, the right medication, fighting, and working every day, I am still here. I know my triggers and limits and do my best to steer clear of them. It just proves that you never know what someone is going through. 

My intention was not to make you feel hopeless. But to be able to see the hope and prospect of being able to have the awareness to share. Here are two ways that you can practice and do this.

The first is called “Take 5 to Save Lives.” Basically, this is to encourage people to take 5 minutes from your day to do these things.

  1. Learn the warning signs
  2. Do your part
  3. Practice self-care
  4. Reach out
  5. Spread the word

The second is about “Taking a Minute.”

  • Take a minute to see what is happening with you, your family, coworkers, and friends.
  • Take a minute to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different or recognize a warning sign.
  • Take a minute to look and find out what help is available for you and others.

Until next time take care of yourselves and stay safe.

Sarah Wylde