Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.
Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. Suicidal behaviour includes suicide, and also encompases suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.
Suicide is the result of a convergence of genetic, psychological, social and cultural and other risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss. People who take their own lives represent a heterogeneous group, with unique, complex and multifaceted causal influences preceding their final act. Such heterogeneity presents challenges for suicide prevention experts. These challenges can be overcome by adopting a multilevel and cohesive approach to suicide prevention.
Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention! You can make a difference – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. There are many things that you can do daily, and also on World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), to prevent suicidal behaviour. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own experiences.
It takes work to prevent suicide. The positive benefits of this work are infinite and sustainable and can have a massive impact. The work can affect not only those in distress but also their loved ones, those working in the area and also society as a whole. We must endeavour to develop evidence based suicide prevention activities that reach those who are struggling in every part of the world.
Joining together is critical to preventing suicide. Preventing suicide requires the efforts of many. It takes family, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, political officials and governments.
Suicide prevention requires integrative strategies that encompass work at the individual, systems and community level. Research suggests that suicide prevention efforts will be much more effective if they span multiple levels and incorporate multiple interventions. This requires the involvement of interventions that occur in communities and involve social and policy reforms, as well as interventions that are delivered directly to individuals. To reach our common goal in preventing suicidal behaviour we as the public, we as organisations, we as legislators and we as members of society must work collaboratively, in a coordinated fashion, using a multidisciplinary approach.
Everyone can make a contribution in preventing suicide. Suicidal behaviour is universal, knows no boundaries so it affects everyone. The millions of people affected each year by suicidal behaviour have exclusive insight and unique voices. Their experiences are invaluable for informing suicide prevention measures and influencing the provision of supports for suicidal people and those around them. The involvement of people with lived experience of suicide in research, evaluation and intervention should be central to the work of every organisation addressing suicidal behaviour.
This is the second year that the WSPD theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.” This theme will also be used for WSPD 2020. We have chosen this theme as it highlights the most essential ingredient for effective global suicide prevention- collaboration. We all have a role to play and together we can collectively address the challenges presented by suicidal behaviour in society today. On September 10th, join with us and many others across the world who are playing their part in the prevention of suicide. Be sure to involve or invite other local organisations and collaborators to organise an event to mark WSPD 2019.