The 10th of September 2016 marks World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide. 800,000 people lose their lives through suicide every year and leave behind countless grieving loved ones who have to then try to make peace and understand the reasons why. The purpose of having a day dedicated to preventing suicide is to give a message of hope. The theme of this year’s campaign is Connect, Communicate and Care. This represents the importance of checking in with each other, showing you care and raising awareness for suicide prevention. Sometimes all a person needs is to be seen, to feel that someone cares and gentle reminder that they matter to others. Starting a conversation and showing someone that you are there for them is so important. You could be talking to someone who is on the verge of ending their life.
Suicide is breaking out of the taboo category it has previously been placed in due to a mix of ignorance and stigma. More awareness is being raised and misconceptions are being gradually stamped out. Some think people who talk about suicide are just looking for attention and won’t really go through with it. It is common for someone to talk about suicide before carrying out their plans. No one goes to the extreme of actually dying or seriously injuring themselves for attention. Take talk of suicide seriously, always. A suicide attempt should never be taken lightly. A lot of people try to end their lives more than once. What we call suicidal ideation is when a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts. When ideation turns to intention that’s when a person is at extreme risk of attempting. Terms like “commit suicide” are being phased out in favour of the rightful and more respectful “died by suicide” suicide is not a crime and treating it like something shameful is disrespectful to the person’s memory and to their family who are processing the loss.
Suicide affects everyone and is a problem for all of us in some way or another. There are many mental health organisations, campaigns, advocates and charities fighting the good fight and making it easier for people to talk. Suicide is a conversation for everyone, mental health is everybody’s business. We all have problems, we can all feel indescribable sadness, life can get the better of any of us. You are not alone in this. When you reach the lowest of all lows, when you can only feel pain, when everyone seems like they would be better off without you, when hope has all but disappeared and you are consumed by thoughts of ending this suffering for good, the bravest thing you can possibly do is reach out and ask for help. Suicide is never the answer.
I wish someone had told me this when I was in that place. I thought that there was no other way out of the darkness, no obvious solution that would end my inner demons that were slowly killing me anyway. I look back on every time I contemplated suicide, every time I used a knife or took an overdose or stood on the edge of the cliff and think about how far I have come since each of those times. All the amazing things I had not yet experienced at those points, all the people I had yet to meet and all the little mysteries I still needed to learn about who I am. I could easily have died, ended my journey and never known how it would all pan out. My life is not great, far from perfect but it’s more than okay. I am so grateful to be here to experience every bit of it.
This Suicide Prevention Day get involved in any way you can reach out to others, lend an ear, make sure those special ones know how much you love them, engage in conversations, take to social media, spread the message that it’s ok to talk, educate yourself on suicide prevention methods, attend an event, donate to a charity or light a candle by a window at 8pm for all of those who have died through suicide and take some time to remember them.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are concerned for someone there are many support services available
Here are just a few of many:
Samaritans: 1850 60 90 90 / free phone 116 123
Suicide or Survive (SOS)
1890 577 577