It can be hard to imagine the devastation faced by the friends and family members of those who have committed suicide. Just as it can be hard to imagine the grief of those who have lost someone to suicide, it is often harder to imagine the thoughts, feelings, emotions and motivations of the one who wants to take their own life. Suicide is an all-encompassing tragedy that affects people regardless of their age, gender, race, or station in life.
Each year, around 800,000 commit suicide, or about 1 death every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost to suicide each year exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. It is facts like these that have spurred the creation of World Suicide Prevention Day.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) work together to prevent suicide and recognize World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th, as an important day in the effort to save lives.
World Suicide Day was established in 2003 and seeks to bring together individuals and organizations from around the world that seek to help prevent the tragedy. The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2014 is, “Suicide prevention: One World Connected.” It will highlight the importance of connectedness in facing the multi-level issue of suicide and address that connectedness and support is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of suicide.
As World Suicide Prevention Day draws close, it is important that society remembers the multi-faceted and complicated nature of suicide. It is never just as easy as “not thinking about it” or “getting over it.” One example of this would be the recent death of actor and comedian Robin Williams. His suicide surprised many people because to all outward appearances he was a happy, successful, funny and wealthy individual with everything to live for. However, at the same time, Williams struggled with depression, a history of alcohol and drug abuse and had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The tragic death of Robin Williams only brings further attention to the complicated nature of suicide. It can be easy to regard the act of suicide as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem” when in reality, those contemplating death are in situations and states of mind where they literally cannot see any way out of their struggles other than death. Additionally, it is instances like this that remind society that the motivations behind suicide include psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors.
In many cases, mental health issues and substance abuse play a large role in influencing a person’s risk of suicide. Depression and alcohol use are some of the largest risk factors for suicide in both Europe and North America. Other mental disorders can also take a toll on a person’s psyche and put them at a higher risk of suicide. For these cases, support and connectedness are vital to helping prevent suicide.
The IASP points out in their informational brochure that “[c]onnectedness is crucial to individuals who may be vulnerable to suicide. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide and, conversely, that having strong human bonds can be protective against it. Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act.”
As World Suicide Prevention Day approaches, it is important to remember that extending a helping hand in an effort to support another person can literally save a life. To learn more about suicide and ways that you may be able to help in the effort to prevent it, you can visit IASP.info.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is potentially suicidal, you can find help at Sovereign Health where the needed aid may be found. For further information about how mental health or substance abuse can affect a person’s risk of suicide, you can visit Sovcal.com or read our patient reviews about their experiences with recovery.