World Suicide Day is observed globally on the 10th of September every year in order to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention as well as promote activities to help combats deaths by suicide. It is hosted by The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). The first World Suicide Day was observed in 2003 with the theme ‘Suicide Can be Prevented’. The main agenda for the implementation of such an initiative was, to increase activities to help increase awareness on suicidal behaviours and how to effectively prevent them and to develop national policies and plans for suicide prevention.
The theme for World Suicide Day 2020 is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’. One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. It is the 15th leading cause of death worldwide and it is the leading cause of death is people aged 15-24 in many European countries. Speaking gender wise, 15 males in every 100 males and 8 females in every 100 females die due to suicide. Also, for every 1 suicide, 25 others make a suicide attempt. Atleast 135 people are affected by each suicide death. Did you know that 25 countries criminalize suicide and an additional 20 countries suicide attempters may be punished with jail sentences according to Sharia Law?
Almost 50% people who died by suicide had a major depressive disorder at the time of their death. Depression has been touching and destroying the lives of so many, in an unprecedented manner. It is important that these people be helped. But this is where we need to step up our game. Most people are hesitant to lend a helping hand as they fear they do not know what the right thing to say, do etc. is. But really, just asking them how they are doing, checking up on them every now and then would make such a difference. This is the least that we can do for our family, friends and anyone who we can extend a caring hand to. One never knows, maybe it is that stranger we showed love and compassion to, who we may have helped against taking a drastic step.
A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration while trying to understand depression and the reason behind why people turn to suicide. It may be any, or a combination of the following factors: genetic, psychological, social, cultural, trauma, loss etc. Apart from this, there is a lot of stigma surrounding suicide. This usually burdens the family, and in turn may lead to further mental and social afflictions in the family.
So this World Suicide day, what can we do? We each have and should identify our responsibility to support and empower the vulnerable in our midst. Just a simple, ‘Are you Okay?’ can make such a difference. Mean it when you enquire after someone, and always be open to listening to them. Just knowing that there is someone to listen to their problems itself is such a big deterrent to suicide. And always ensure that you provide non-judgemental support. We may think we know exactly what they may be going through, but restrain yourself from thinking so. Make sure to seek professional help when required. So, let us all take a solemn promise to be active listeners and keep our eyes and ears open to anyone who may be undergoing such problems. Together, we can all make a difference. Let us work together, to prevent suicide.