The first World Suicide Prevention Day took place on September 10th, 2003, following a collaboration between the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Though it is unclear why this day was selected for the annual awareness event, South Korean activist Lee Kyung-hae publicly committed suicide on this day, in protest of globalization efforts by the World Trade Organization. Billions of lives have been affected by suicide, and research and discussion is ongoing to help prevent these events. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Lifeline is an option for LGBTQ+ people at 1-866-488-7386.
Most people who contemplate suicide are desperately seeking chances to live but do not know how or where to begin. The human drive to survive is strong and innate, and it persists despite mental anguish. Suicide typically occurs when an individual feels trapped or hopeless. Reaching out and reassuring someone in need that they are cared for can make a huge difference.
A study published in 2019 concluded that suicide prevention programs are effective on a national scale. The results imply that openly talking about suicide is equally, if not more, effective on a personal level. The current opinion of psychologists is that open discussions lead to productive conversations that save lives. The goal of World Suicide Prevention Day is to do just that.
Although every case is unique, there are some common clues that a person is contemplating suicide. In observance of World Suicide Prevention Day, some signs are:
Dealing with a person in crisis is a difficult situation, but noticing the problem and deescalating the situation beforehand is much simpler and requires significantly less effort.
World Suicide Prevention Day seeks to remind the public that nearly everyone is at risk of developing self-destructive thoughts. Some common triggers are:
While the list of reasons why someone might consider suicide is expansive, these are common themes among those reasons.
Even in the most determined of minds there exists a flicker of hope. Many suicide survivors state instant feelings of regret when they made that final decision. The mind is constantly fluctuating and fighting itself during a suicidal crisis. The very concept of World Suicide Prevention Day holds fast to the idea that suicide is completely preventable. Remember that this too shall pass.
No matter how comical or tongue-in-cheek a comment may be, it is important to remember that jokes about suicide come from real places. Repeated comments of a similar type and tone should be cause for concern. Listen to friends and family when they speak and pay attention; it might help prevent a suicide.
Many people worry that they do not know what to say to a suicidal person, but the reality is that what you say does not matter nearly as much as simply being there for them. World Suicide Prevention Day teaches us to be kind and compassionate when reaching out to others, and that sometimes just being there is enough to start helping.
Remember that you are lending yourself to aid another person, so you should remain focused on their emotions and concerns. Never ridicule or diminish the severity of what someone confides in you — they trust you enough to be vulnerable. It's okay to ask questions, but allow the person to divulge details at their discretion. Always remain respectful, patient, and kind. Prevention is a process.
This World Suicide Prevention Day, it's important to learn how to care for someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. Offer to drive a friend or family member to their next appointment or to send them reminders to take their medication. For added security, remove any lethal objects from the home and create a plan in case of a suicidal crisis. For the long run, help them create positive lifestyle choices that will facilitate their healing over time. Healthy habits like diet and exercise greatly affect our mental health.
A suicidal crisis occurs when an individual is at a high risk of ending their life. Suicidal crises are marked by
If you are with a person when they are in a suicidal crisis, call 911 immediately. Do not leave them unattended.
There are many resouses available to people experiencing suicidal thoughts. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Lifeline is an option for LGBTQ+ people at 1-866-488-7386.