World Suicide Prevention Day
TW: Suicidal Ideation (SI), mentions of su*c*de
On September 10th, we observe World Suicide Prevention Day as a united stand against the loss of countless precious lives to suicide. It provides a platform to ensure preventative measures that reduce suicides and suicide attempts globally. It aims to spread an optimistic message that inspires confidence in people to engage with an otherwise complex and sensitive subject.
Every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. This adds up to about 800,000 people a year. Suicide accounts for 1.3% of all deaths worldwide and was the 17th leading cause of death in 2019 (Suicide Data, WHO). Suicide is a global concern and a serious public health issue; however, it is preventable. If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are suicide prevention hotlines available in nearly every country (India - +91 9152987821).
Based on personal accounts of people who struggle with suicidal depression, distractions are a healthy temporary coping mechanism during a suicidal episode. It can be difficult to listen to reason and face reality when your thoughts become overwhelming, and so finding comfort and familiarity in a distraction, whether it is watching a TV show, reading a book, or knitting, can help relieve some of those thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are sometimes fueled by the notion that the world is better off without you, and so it is important to push yourself to challenge these notions. Think about the devastating impacts of your death on the people who are close to you, think about the people you love, think about how you would feel if you lost someone who is as close to you as you are to other people. Although you shouldn’t stay alive for other people, it is a good way to recognize your importance in the world around you and to slowly begin recovering so you can stay alive for yourself. It is important to take baby steps. It is also helpful to force yourself to reach out. Explaining the thoughts going through your head can be scary and difficult, but having the option to call someone when these thoughts become intense could potentially save your life. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to do all of that when you are being crushed by the weight of suicidal ideation, and sometimes going to sleep can help too. A suicidal episode is often mentally and emotionally exhausting, so falling asleep is the easiest way out of it. When you are not in the midst of an episode but are still struggling with these thoughts in passing, it is helpful to reach out to a mental health professional.
If you are worried that someone is suicidal, the best approach would be to ask them openly, because even if it sounds scary, it could potentially save someone’s life. Contrary to popular belief, talking to them about it will not make it worse. The best way to support someone who is suicidal is by listening to them without judgement. You must be open to the idea that everyone’s brain is wired differently and whatever someone is feeling is absolutely valid. Moreover, make it known that you aren’t judging them; alleviate the stigma around suicide. Small gestures such as asking ‘how are you today?’ and reminding them of their role in your life can make a big difference to how someone is feeling, whether you know if they are struggling or not. Show people that you care about them, and give them the support that they need, especially if they call you in the middle of a crisis. Unless you are a mental health professional, it is crucial that you help people who are struggling find resources that could help them recover and deal with their thoughts. It is also important to remember that helping someone with suicidal thoughts can be detrimental to your mental health, and while this shouldn’t stop you from helping them, you should set boundaries and be able to realise when to reach out to a mental health professional. Support groups and counselling are always great options. It is also important to not blame yourself for not being able to help someone, we are only human and what someone else does is not in our control.
World suicide prevention day is a part of a larger fight against fundamental flaws in the way we look at and react to suicide as a concept. It is vital to not only remove the stigma surrounding suicide but to educate ourselves and others on how to handle the subject. As a society, we should be more mindful and understanding towards people struggling with suicidal thoughts and remind ourselves to look out for one another.
● “Suicide Data.” Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, 2019, www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/suicide-data.
● Byers, Allyson. “My Experience with Suicidal Thoughts and How I Cope with Them.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 19 Apr. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/what-it-is-like-suicidal-how-to-cope#1.-When-it-feels-impossible-to-focus-on-anything-other-than-my-pain,-I-look-for-a-distraction.
Writer: Lara Nambisan