World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th of September provides an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention. This year’s theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”, highlighting the importance of knowing the signs, finding the right words, and reaching out to people suffering from suicidal thoughts.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide accounts for one death every 40 seconds. It is now a major health problem in high-income countries and an emerging problem in low to middle-income countries.
Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues combined lead to a feeling of hopelessness and despair. A large proportion of people who die by suicide suffer from different mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, attention deficit disorders (ADHD), bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other illnesses of the mind.
But how can we help a person in a time of need?
Pay attention to the warning signs.
Most people who are considering suicide exhibit warning signs or signals of their intention. Something to look out for is a change in behaviour or the presence of entirely new behaviour. For example, a friend that is usually cheery and outgoing suddenly becomes socially outdrawn. Or a co-worker who missed more days than usual and has not been able to keep up with their daily routine.
Other warning signs of suicide may include behaviours such as recklessness, pessimistic language, and talking more about death and suicide.
Talking about the ‘unthinkable.’
Working together to prevent suicide is critical, and our support can make a difference in raising awareness and encouraging conversations. Talking about the unthinkable means encouraging the person to share their story and taking the time to just listen – without interruption, without offering solutions, and without judging. This can provide an opportunity for them to open up and talk about their stressors.
Sometimes people who are suffering in silence just want to hear the words “You are not alone in this.” If you know someone suffering from mental illness and having suicidal thoughts, do not be afraid to reach out. Let them know that you are available to listen and to help.
One of the many factors that magnify the stigma associated with mental health is a simple lack of knowledge.
Here at First Aid Pro, we continuously promote awareness of mental health conditions and symptoms through our first aid courses. We believe that unless the mental health stigma is confronted and challenged, it will continue to be a major barrier to the prevention of suicide.
With education, intervention, and outreach, we can help people who struggle with staggering sadness, hopelessness, and despair find the help they need. Take a look at our Mental Health First Aid Course and participate in one of our classes. Let us help break the stigma around suicide and help prevent future victims from suffering in silence.