National suicide awareness day is a way for the public to decrease the stigma surrounding suicidal thoughts.
Reports show that nearly one million suicides occur globally each year. In other words, someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Using data from 2016, The World Health Organization reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15–29 years old. Despite these dire statistics, activists remind us that suicide is the most preventable type of death.
That’s why the WHO, The United Nations, The International Association for Suicide Prevention and multiple other organizations have sponsored national suicide awareness day for almost 20 years. Last Monday, supporters, whether they be politicians, teachers, bloggers or celebrities, urged people to talk about suicide prevention. Suicide survivors and those who have suffered from suicidal thoughts in the past shared their own stories.
A large priority is better education on suicide statistics and how suicidal thoughts may affect those around them. At a student panel in Tennessee, one student mentioned that her brother had nearly committed suicide in the past. “I think the more we can educate people the more understanding, the more diverse and inclusive this setting will be,” she said. To those suffering, especially troubled teens, the mystification of suicide can be problematic.
he problem of the perception of suicide is double-ended. We must do away with the stigma of suicidal thoughts while decreasing the romanticizing of death by suicide. Romanticizing can come in many forms. Books, poems, movies and the like can beautify suicide. Internet-goers can glorify those have died by suicide in the past or the act itself. In some extreme cases, forums urge people to take their own life, often with the promise of extra-material happiness.
Professional suicide-prevention organizations target groups like veterans or crisis survivors who are more prone to suicidal thoughts. It’s important that they have an idea of what the victim’s gone through and how to apply the right treatment. Amateur support groups, such as online “reasons to live” authors, often post a myriad of ideas to fight depression. Looking through a list of a hundred reasons, it is doubtful two very different victims would agree on more than 20.
Feelings of depression and despair are personal issues. No one can know for certain what to suggest to those suffering from such feelings. So why do they try? Why all the cheesy inspirational quotes, the vague recommendations?
Because all these people, whether they’re part of one of the aforementioned organizations, writing a blog, using a hashtag or doing one of a thousand other things, value the life of a stranger. They are trying to project this message to as many people as possible, most of whom they will never meet. That in itself is a powerful thing. September 10th is universal hang-in-there day. It’s look-out-for-someone-you-don’t-even-know day.
You may have missed suicide awareness day, but September is Suicide Awareness Month. Consider how you’re treating those around you. Ask yourself if you’re treating others with respect, who might be suffering and how you could help.
If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org to speak with a professional.