Sui­cide preven­tion doesn’t just take a day

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial -

To­day is not World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day. That was last Mon­day, Sept. 10. There was plenty about it on both so­cial me­dia and in the tra­di­tional news me­dia. Much of it qui­eted down, though, as the day came to a close. But that doesn’t mean you should sim­ply move on.

Sui­cide is an is­sue that doesn’t work on the cal­en­dar, or on any clock, for that mat­ter. Any­one who has ever con­sid­ered sui­cide knows that de­pres­sion and sui­ci­dal thoughts can arise any­where and at any time. If you haven’t ever ex­pe­ri­enced them, you are among the lucky: the ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­haust­ing and of­ten de­bil­i­tat­ing. And if the symp­toms were con­nected to an ob­vi­ous phys­i­cal ail­ment, the peo­ple who know you would be urg­ing you to seek med­i­cal help.

Men­tal ill­nesses, how­ever, are still treated dif­fer­ently, de­spite the toll that they take. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion lists sui­cide as the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. In Bri­tain, it’s the lead­ing cause of death for men un­der 45. Sui­cide takes 800,000 lives a year around the world, 45,000 a year in the United States alone. Close to 4,500 Cana­di­ans died that way in 2016.

There are prob­a­bly very few peo­ple read­ing th­ese words who haven’t been touched by sui­cide and the ef­fects it has on fam­i­lies and friends. You never know how close it is: be­hind this ed­i­to­rial is a writer who has been in ex­actly that spot and was saved by the care and aware­ness of oth­ers.

So, what should you do, now that the of­fi­cial day of recog­ni­tion is over?

The In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Sui­cide Preven­tion has some sug­ges­tions: “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 be­hav­ior and men­tal health prob­lems and share your own ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Now, that was their sug­ges­tion for last Mon­day. Think about it for ev­ery sin­gle day.

Reach out when you sense that some­one might be in trou­ble. So­cial iso­la­tion is listed as one of the high­est risk fac­tors for sui­cide. The worst thing you can be is wrong, and there’s no shame in that. Reach out when you don’t hear from some­one, when they turn down in­vi­ta­tions, when they seem to be walk­ing into the shad­ows.

And when some­one asks for help, step up. Oh, and help is not just us­ing a Twit­ter hash­tag that gets lots of trac­tion for a day or two ev­ery year.

Yes, World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day 2018 has moved into the his­tory books.

Aware­ness, and ac­tion, about sui­cide preven­tion has to be much, much more.

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