Working Together to Prevent Suicide

Monday September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. This year the theme is Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

The theme was chosen internationally as it highlights the most essential ingredient for effective global suicide prevention – collaboration. We all have a role to play and together we can collectively address the challenges presented by suicidal behaviour in society today.

Ms Nieves Murray is CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia. She says,

‘World Suicide Prevention Day is a time to commemorate and collaborate.
– to honour loved ones who’ve died by suicide.
– to understand that we all have a role in preventing suicide.
– to start and continue conversations that matter.’

Here is Australia, almost eight people die by suicide every day. Annually more than 2800 people take their own lives, 65,000 attempt suicide, and thousands more consider it.

“Every day, we lose many lives to suicide, and many more are profoundly impacted by their deaths. We acknowledge all who experience the challenges of suicidal ideation, and those who have lost loved ones through suicide.”
(International Association for Suicide Prevention)

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 equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.

Some additional facts:

• 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

• 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

• Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in people who die by suicide

• 50% of individuals in high income countries who die by suicide have major depressive disorder at their time of death

• For every 1 suicide 25 people make a suicide attempt

Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention! You can make a difference – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. There are many things that you can do daily, and also on World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), to prevent suicidal behaviour. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own experiences.

Joining together is critical to preventing suicide. Preventing suicide requires the efforts of many. It takes family, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, political officials and governments.

Take a Minute

Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life.

Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention and have informed resources which are now readily available.

People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy.

Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address, accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act.
Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it.

We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.

The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgment can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.

• Take a minute to notice what is going on with you, your family, your friends and your colleagues.
• Take a minute to reach out and start a conversation if you notice something is different.
• Take a minute to find out what help is available for both you and others.

Light a Candle

Place a lit candle near a window at 8 p.m. on Monday 10th September

to show your support for suicide prevention

to remember a lost loved one

and for the survivors of suicide.

The flame symbolises hope and raises awareness of the suicide problem in our community. It is also meant as a message that there are solutions and resources available. Ultimately, the candle represents the empathy and compassion needed to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts to break free.

Author: Bruce Rickard

Reflections on Suicide and Staying Alive: My son's suicide changed everything. I felt an obligation to understand why anyone would want to end their life. My regular blog posts explore the causes and prevalence of suicide and what is needed to sustain a healthy mind and a hope-filled future.

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