For World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) and as well for World Mental Health Day (WMHD October 10), both lead international organisations have consolidated their advocacy under one theme: Working Together to Prevent Suicide.
September 10, annually marks WSPD, which provides an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention. This day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and has widespread support by every international agency involved in health advocacy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in their support says, “On World Suicide Prevention Day, we are launching a ‘40 seconds of action’ campaign to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it. WHO says every 40 seconds a person somewhere in the world dies by suicide and that worldwide, suicide accounts for close to one million deaths annually.
Today’s feature provides suicide prevention resources from varied sources.
Help Guide (helpguide.org) explains suicide best saying, “Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.”
This is not the way we have been taught traditionally to understand suicide. Here helpguide.org presents some myths about the subject.
Common misconceptions about suicide:
(i) Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
(ii) Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They are upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
(iii) Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop.
(iv) Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
(v) Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do. (Original Source: SAVE—Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) The Ministry of Health T&T (http://www.health.gov.tt) offers these guidelines for approaching someone who may be ideating:
1. Ask a question if you are worried. Do not be afraid to ask someone if they are contemplating suicide if you have noticed two or more of the following:
• A recent significant crisis or loss in the life of the individual
• Preoccupation with themes of death or expressing suicidal thoughts
• Symptoms of depression, adjustment challenges, and the abuse of substances
• Withdrawal from friends and family and loss of interest in hobbies and group activities
• Lingering expressions of unworthiness or failure
• Drastic personality changes such as outbursts of anger, apathy, recklessness, or impulsive behaviour
• Major disturbances in sleep and eating habits: excessively or too little
2. Listen. Let the suicidal person share their experience and feelings. It may feel uncomfortable but despite how negative the conversation may seem, the fact that it exists is a positive sign. Be mindful of how you listen. Be patient and non-judgemental. Give your full attention and show concern. Be aware of your non-verbal reactions. Try to be understanding of the person’s pain.
3. Do not argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
Do not offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
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Suicide Help Resources
LIFELINE (24hr hotline)
Tel: 645 2800
lifeline on facebook
ALIVE (suicide hotline)
Tel: 800-5588, 866-5433 and 220-3636
Mental Health Unit
Tel: 285-9126 ext. 2577, 2571, 2573 and 2590
Monday-Friday, 8 am - 4 pm
Emergency Care Resources
St. Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital
St. Ann’s Road, St. Ann’s
Mental Health Unit
Uriah Butler Highway, Champ Fleurs
645-3232 ext. 2542
General Hospital, Ward One
Independence Avenue, San Fernando
652-3581 ext. 3221