World Health Organisation shines a light on suicide around the globe
September 9, 2017
The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that's one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally. Approximately 60 people are affected by each suicide death and for every suicide 25 people make a suicide attempt. These tragic ripple effects mean that there are many people in our society bereaved by suicide and/or in distress. What is important to remember is that suicide is preventable.
World Suicide Prevention Day has a global reach and continues to impact on communities big and small, knowing no borders and boundaries. This World Suicide Prevention Day, via our theme "Take a minute, change a life," the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) encourages everyone; professionals, careers, family and community members to take a minute to reach out to someone - a stranger, a family member or friend because this can change a life.
What you can do
The importance of community
Professor Jane Pirkis, Acting President of IASP says, "The theme this year is one of motivation and empowerment - Take a minute, change a life. We are all part of a community, be it a family, a neighbourhood or a workplace. Sometimes we or those around us can become isolated or disconnected from our communities. We have a responsibility to support those in our communities who become vulnerable. By reaching out and checking in on someone in distress, we can all make a difference."
Why we must take a minute and reach out
Too often we are reluctant to intervene when we are concerned about someone, worried that we may say the wrong thing or that we do not have the time or capacity to help. Remember that no one has all of the answers. Almost universally, people who have previously attempted suicide, will often say that if one person had taken a minute to ask them how they were that this could have stopped them from engaging in suicidal behaviour. Remember that someone in distress will always be helped by being listened to, with compassion and empathy.
How to reach out
Open communication is vital when addressing the topic of suicidal behavior, depression or crises. People in distress are often not looking for specific advice, but merely to be listened to with compassion and empathy. If you are worried about someone in your community, then reach out and simply ask them "are you okay?". By listening and encouraging them to tell their story, at their own pace we can also help to change their thinking, feeling and behaviour, or even their life. Most often people in distress may need to be cared for by a healthcare professional so the next step would be to encourage this.
What governments can do
Government and policy play a hugely important role in preventing suicide and protecting the well-being of their respective citizens. The first step a government should take to address suicide is to develop a national strategy, committed to suicide prevention. Such a strategy would ensure commitment to the topic and collaboration between stakeholders, which is essential to tackling suicide at a universal level. Ensuring the deliverables of these strategies are met is important as is the evaluation of strategies, to ensure that suicide prevention efforts are optimized. Suicide is currently still criminalized in 25 countries worldwide and in an additional 20 countries those who attempt suicide may also be criminally punished. The treatment of suicide and suicidal behavior as a criminal offence is damaging and something which needs to be addressed internationally.
Take part in WSPD 2017
This Sunday, September 10th, IASP anticipates that individuals from over 50 countries will observe World Suicide Prevention Day with activities such as the annual Cycle Around the Globe event, memorial walks, cultural or educational events, or through simply lighting a candle, near a window at 8 p.m., in support of suicide prevention, to remember a loved one lost to suicide, and for those who are bereaved by suicide.
Activities are taking place all over the world. For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day, visit: https://iasp.info/wspd2017
IASP will host its annual global activity for WSPD - the Cycle Around the Globe, where participants across the planet will cycle the circumference of the planet, 40,075 kilometres or 24,900 miles. Please join us and help us reach this target. It does not matter how far you can cycle – every kilometre or mile will be added to the total and there are no limits; you can cycle at home, in the gym or outside. https://www.iasp.info/wspd/cycle_around_the_globe.php
IASP encourages people to light a candle near a window at 8 p.m. in support of WSPD, to remember a loved one lost to suicide and for the survivors of suicide. IASP is also encouraging people who light a candle to post a video or photo on the Facebook Event Page. Light a Candle Near a Window e-cards in over 30 languages, can be downloaded for free at: https://iasp.info/wspd2017/light-a-candle.
IASP is encouraging Twitter users to use the following tags on WSPD to help increase suicide prevention awareness: #wspd, #suicide and #suicideprevention. IASP can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/IASPinfo.
The IASP has created a WSPD Facebook Event page that will enable Facebook users the opportunity to show their support for World Suicide Prevention Day and to remember loved ones lost to suicide. https://www.facebook.com/events/1717902201841370
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is a unique multidisciplinary organization with its membership coming from 70 countries, primarily from the mental health professions, but with additional members from such disciplines as sociology, social work, anthropology, medicine, public health, education, corrections, probation, coroners/medical examiners, pathology and philosophy.
Note: Journalists reporting on this event are advised to include information on relevant help lines and websites:
The following website provides details of Crisis Centres around the globe: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres
- Samaritans: 116 123 (UK and Ireland)
- Lifeline 13 11 14 (Australia)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (USA)
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