Each year since 2003, 10 September has been marked as World Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 703,000 people around the world take their own lives every year.
In addition to that devastating loss of life, for every suicide there are probably another 20 people who attempt suicide, while many more seriously consider it, says the WHO.
With the number of relatives, friends and colleagues affected by those taking their own lives running into millions, there are serious public health concerns around the issue of suicide.
In the UK, suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45, says the charity Mental Health UK, which also points out that suicides among teenage girls and young women have almost doubled in recent years.
(For more details, see: Office for National Statistics: Deaths from suicide that occurred in England and Wales: April to December 2020, issued April 2022; The Guardian: About 7% of UK children have attempted suicide by age of 17 – study; Samaritans: Suicide statistics report; Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: State of Child Health: Suicide.)
Helping prevent suicide
A joint initiative of the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) World Suicide Prevention Day is intended to focus attention on the issue of suicide, tackle the stigma around it, and help people understand that suicide can be prevented.
The official theme for the Day last year, this year and in 2023 is ‘Creating hope through action’ and the aim is to encourage us all to think about how we can support someone who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts or who might be at risk of suicide.
Among a number of statistics presented by the IASP is the fact that someone suffering with depression is 20 times more likely to die by suicide than someone who doesn’t have it.
To help promote awareness of issues around suicide, the IASP has a number of resources freely available, which people are encouraged to share via social media using one or more of the official hashtags:
#WSPD #WSPD2022 #BeTheLight #WorldSuicidePreventionDay #CreatingHopeThroughAction
Resources are also available from other organisations, including UK charity Rethink Mental Illness which offers information and advice on mental illness (and also runs training courses on issues such as how to hold a safe conversation with someone who is having thoughts of suicide) and the Samaritans, whose Small Talk Saves Lives campaign aims to help people ‘interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help set them on the journey to recovery’ by simply engaging them in some small talk.
If you are struggling with your mental health and live in or near Flintshire, Cheshire or the Wirral, I can provide face-to-face consultations from offices in Mold, Chester and Heswall. I also offer online support.
For details of my services and to book a session, please browse my website.