World Mental Health Day 2019: Focus on suicide prevention

Today, on World Mental Health Day, wear a green ribbon to help raise awareness of suicide prevention. Credit: Shutterstock

This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide.

World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health and is supported by WHO (World Health Organization), the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health 

The alarming statistics are that close to 800 000 people die by suicide every year. Furthermore, for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.

Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts on families, friends, colleagues, communities and societies. The reality is devastating, a gut-wrenching tragedy where a life ends and shatters countless others.

The reasons behind suicide are complex. Evidence points to certain factors that can influence and usually it’s a combination of various such as: financial uncertainty, poverty, unemployment, traumatic life events and persistent inequality. These factors have a significant influence, along with wider factors including ill-health, loneliness and discrimination.   

The work by Professor Rory O’Conner, from the University of Glasgow, shows that feelings of being defeated or trapped are a common trigger to suicide. Communicating hope is vital as is bringing suicide out from the shadows. Two thirds of those who take their own lives aren’t accessing services signifying that for suicide prevention to be truly effective, there needs to be a greater reach at individual, community and national levels by creating a society where there is no shame to ask for help, experience less trauma and distress when doing so and where support is on hand when needed.

The reality is that there is a rise in suicides, especially in young people and men.

Some steps to be taken to aid suicide prevention include:

Offer more community and therapeutic support for people who are at higher risk.

Teaching kids emotional literacy, it’s a vital part in empowering kids to manage their emotions in a healthy way and build resilience in the face of distress. 

World Mental Health Day gives the opportunity to learn about and understand the reality of suicide and how every individual can offer hope to someone who may be in crisis. 

Today, on World Mental Health Day, wear a green ribbon to help raise awareness of suicide prevention. A green ribbon is the international symbol for mental health awareness. 

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Written by

Cristina Hodgson

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