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Suicide Prevention Day (and Week)

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World Suicide Prevention Day, Sep. 10, falls in the middle of National Suicide Prevention Week, Sep.9-15, and its theme this year is "Stigma: A Major Barrier to Suicide Prevention."
 

Suicide kills 1 million people worldwide each year, according to World Health Organization estimates.
 

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the U.S. suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2010, with an average of 105 suicide deaths a day and estimated medical and work costs of $34.6 billion. Suicide disproportionately affects minorities, especially youth, and while ideation is more likely among females, males are four times as likely to go through with suicide.
 

Oftentimes, those contemplating suicide do not contact or do not have access to suitable health services even when they are located in "high-income" countries, where the problem is most prevalent.
 

Lack of knowledge, prejudice and fear of and discrimination are all related to the stigma surrounding suicide and suicidal thoughts, which affect nearly 4 percent of the U.S. population each year. Prejudice can extend to administering health professionals, and across the world, the budgets allotted to suicide prevention and mental illness are disproportionate to need.
 

The International Association for Suicide Prevention and WHO have concluded that public education programs aimed at driving away stigma have been ineffective and that organizations involved in suicide prevention need to embrace innovative social media methods to spread their message and reach audiences.

IASP is hosting its first "core activity," Cycle Around the World this Sep. 10 to "globally raise awareness of suicide and its prevention, and to reduce the stigma associated with it."
 

Participants can register to bike any distance in or outside their community, equipped with an official cycle number and sponsorship form. The number of miles biked will be totaled to measure and announce the level of global participation in this event.
 

People can also coordinate their cycling with or independently participate in local community-organized walks.
 

IASP also offers a number of social media materials and approaches to spreading the message, including its official World Suicide Prevention Day Facebook page, press preparation package, toolkit with online resources, digital banners and twitter handles (#WSPD or #suicide or #suicideprevention).
 

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center calls suicide a "preventable" problem.
 

It lists the following warning signs for individuals and refers them to the help hotline Lifeline (1-800-273-8255):

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

 

Encouraging everyone to spend some time with someone who is struggling, Reach Out.Check In.Save a Life. offers a more nuanced perspective on suicide and its prevention:

  • When someone talks about suicide, they’re not simply looking for attention.
  • If someone wants to end their life, there are ways you can intervene.
  • Even people who seem happy, successful, loved and outgoing can have thoughts of suicide.
  • A previous suicide attempt increases risk for suicide in the future.
  • Suicide is in no way a cowardly act.
  • Suicide is in no way a selfish act.
  • Asking someone if they’re considering suicide will not put the idea in their head.