World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 aims to shine a bright light on all kinds of problems, all in the hope that this light reaches people who need it, who are struggling before it gets too late.
Every single year, approximately 700,000 people take their own life. There are many more who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects the life of the person committing it and their loved ones. It has long-lasting effects on people who are left behind. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death globally in 2019 among 15-29 year-olds.
Suicide is not just a problem in high-income, developed countries but is a global phenomenon. Over 77% of suicides occurring globally were reported from low to middle-income countries in 2019.
Suicide is a serious public health concern. However, suicides can be easily prevented with timely interventions. In honor of this and to prevent further suicides from happening, World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 is held on September 10.
Suicidal thoughts are complex. In fact, the causes and factors that lead to one committing suicide are complex. There is no single approach that works for everyone alike. There are various factors and events in one’s life that could make someone extremely vulnerable to suicide and mental health conditions. Mental health conditions are often a contributing factor to suicide. Suicidal people often feel trapped or like a burden on those around them and feel alone, without hope or options.
Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to this increased feeling of being trapped and isolated. It has made people vulnerable. By creating hope for such people, with the right actions, we can tell people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that people around them care and are there to support them.
In Stockholm, Sweden, on September 10th, 2003, the Internation Association for Suicide Prevention shook hands with the World Health Organization to create a dedicated day towards a meaningful message - Suicides are preventable.
The goal of World Suicide Prevention Day has always been to throw light on the problem, with a hope that help reaches the people who are struggling before it gets too late.
The first year of this day was successful. Therefore, in 2004, WHO formally agreed to co-sponsor the event again, making this day an annually recognized event. Today, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed in more than 60 countries, with various events happening worldwide.
To create more awareness regarding the event, a yellow ribbon was created in the year 2016. The color yellow on the ribbon represents a candle flame, often seen at events that raise awareness about preventing suicides.
This ribbon was also added as a Twitter emoticon in honor of the World Suicide Prevention Day in 2018. Every year, the event has a different theme. For 2021, the theme is “Creating Hope Through Action.”
Creating Hope Through Action
The theme of this year is a constant reminder that there is always an alternative to suicide. The theme also emphasizes inspiring confidence and the silver lining among all of us. No matter how big or small, hope is essential in all forms for those who are struggling.
Prevention of suicide is possible, and often people are the key players in such prevention. Through considerate action, one can make a difference in someone’s life, in their darkest moments. Everyone can play an integral role as a member of society, a parent, a child, a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor. Everyone can support one another, especially those experiencing a suicidal crisis or bereaved by suicide.
Prevention and Control
Suicides can be prevented. Various measures can be taken at different levels, population, sub-population, and individual, to prevent suicides and suicide attempts. LIVE LIFE, a WHO initiative for suicide prevention, recommends the following effective interventions to prevent and control suicide:
1. Limit access to means of suicide, like firearms, medications, pesticides, etc.
2. Foster socio-economic life skills in adolescents
3. Interact with media responsible for reporting suicide
4. Early identification, assessment, and management of people who are affected by suicidal behaviors.
These interventions need to go hand-in-hand with certain foundational pillars - situational analysis, collaboration, awareness-raising, capacity building, financing, evaluation and monitoring, and surveillance.
Suicide prevention requires collaboration and coordination among various sectors of society, including the health sector, education, business, justice, law and defense, politics, and media. All efforts must be comprehensive and integrated since one approach cannot work alone on an issue as complex as suicide.
How can you contribute?
You can help someone this World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 by showing that you care.
Everyone can play a vital role, no matter how big or small. You may never know what you are doing that is making a difference in someone’s life. Everyone can reach out and ask people around them how they are doing and how they can help. You do not have to tell them what needs to be done or offer them any solutions. Just make some time and give them space to open up to you and listen to them. Listen to their experiences of distress and suicidal thoughts. Small talk can save thousands of lives and offer hope in someone’s life who might be struggling.
Changing the narrative around suicide by promoting hope creates a compassionate society where people who need help the most will feel comfortable coming forward and seek help. Everyone can do something to live in a world where suicide is recognized rightly, and all of us can do something to help prevent it.
Stories and insights of people who have lived with suicidal thoughts or experienced suicide are compelling to help understand suicide better. This also helps encourage people to reach out better when support is needed. Individuals can reach out for help on their own; stories must be shared safely for the people sharing them and those hearing them.
Personal stories of an individual, their experiences of emotional distress, any suicidal thoughts or any attempt, and their experience of recovery inspire hope in others. This hope can lead others to move through a period of crisis or distress. Stories can also instill a sense of understanding on supporting struggling people and what it means to feel suicidal.
People sharing their experiences of being bereaved due to suicide and how their lives returned to the “new normal” helps others who experience a suicidal loss. This gives them an understanding of the devastation of suicide and a belief that they will be able to live through it all, even with the loss.
Nearly 700,000 people die every year due to suicide.
By understanding each other, encouraging others, sharing our experiences, and reaching out, we can all prevent suicide. Let’s learn to talk about it this World Suicide Prevention Day. Let’s instill hope and confidence in people to take action. Let’s become a beacon of light to the people who are in pain. Let’s prevent suicide together!
You can also be the light in someone’s life.
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