The purpose of World Suicide Day is “to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented”. The IASP has hosted more than 300 activities in 70 countries, educational and commemorative events.
World Suicide Prevention Day
Why it’s important
On average, almost 3 000 people die by suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. About one million people die by suicide each year.
Every 40 seconds, the loss of a person who killed themselves shatters the lives of family and friends. For family and friends affected by suicide or attempted suicide, the emotional impact can last for many years.
This year is challenges in a variety of new ways and most people are emerging from various levels of lockdown, seeking to re-establish their place in society and stabilising healthy daily activities.
The theme for 2020
Each year’s theme focuses on a specific aspect of suicide prevention. While social distancing prevents us from hosting large events, it’s important to keep the discussion going, be it online or offline.
The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is Working Together to Prevent Suicide, a fitting theme for a post-COVID-19 world. This theme aims to make suicide prevention more effective globally.
If you do engage in online discussions about suicide prevention, use #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and remember to be respectful of other people. We don’t know what another has to endure.
What you can do
Dr Ajay Nihalani explains that we must be mindful of how we treat people “despite how happy they may seem”.
“This is a state of mind and can be in complete contrast to their physical and outer appearance; they could have everything going on for them from the outside yet could be in agony from the inside.”
He explains that the “first and most important thing is to open up communication” and to ask how the person is doing, or if there’s something they’d want to share. Then, it’s vital to listen and give the person chance to voice their concerns.
“Somehow, there’s a myth that asking about suicide promotes it. This is absolutely wrong. One has to remember that one of the primary reason for suicide is a way out of intense emotional pain. If you suspect, simply ask. Be there for them, show you care, and if things are not working out or taking a turn for the worst do not be afraid to suggest that the person seeks professional help”.
Where to get help
Remember that suicide shouldn’t be treated as a secret. Suicidal feelings and thoughts are part of depression: they are real and not a sign of weakness. Many of us have felt the same way at some time in our lives so don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel.
“Depression doesn’t mean a person is “crazy.” Depression is a real medical illness. Just like things can go wrong in your body, things can go wrong in your brain. Luckily, most teens who get help for their depression go on to enjoy life and feel better about themselves”.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) released Teen Suicide Prevention guidelines, which highlights warnings signs of suicide, how to ask a friend or family member for help, and who to contact.
The SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) can be reached on 011 234 4837 from 8:00 to 20:00 on Mondays to Sundays. The emergency line is 0800 567 567, and the 24-hr helpline: 0800 567 567 [www.sadag.org]. Alternatively, LifeLine can reached on 0861 322 322 (24hrs) [www.lifelinesa.co.za] and the Lifeline Western Cape WhatsApp chat is 063 709 2620. Additional resources and contact groups for various provinces can be found on www.suicide.org.