This coming Tuesday, 10th September, is World Suicide Prevention Day. The event is organised by the IASP (International Association for Suicide Prevention) whose website tells you all you need to know about the day. It came as a shock to me, but nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. That is a staggering and frightening statistic, and it is greater than the number who die each year due to homicide and war – combined! Suicide is a worldwide issue: whilst it is already a major public health concern in high-income countries it is now growing in prevalence in low- and middle-income countries too. It is a significant cause of death amongst young people, in particular. And the figure doesn’t include the far larger number of failed suicide attempts
The theme of this year’s event – which is the 11th such day to take place – is ‘Stigma: A Major Barrier For Suicide Prevention.’ Many of those who commit suicide are suffering from mental illness of one kind or another. I count myself very lucky that my depression has never once given me cause to feel suicidal, and that I’m too much of a coward to consider self-harm. But many others are less fortunate. Tuesday is the day to think about them and about the stigma attached to mental health and suicide, that prevent people from seeking help when they desperately need it. As you can see from the picture above, the focal activity this year is a combined attempt to cycle the world’s circumference, whilst raising money for support activities.
I won’t labour the point, especially this early on such a sunny Sunday morning, but I hope you can take a moment or two to follow the link and take a look at some of the IASP’s materials. It will open your eyes very wide, trust me!