World Suicide Prevention Day: How can I help?

By Phillip Chigiya (edited by Kimberley Midzi)

The 10th of September marks World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). The first WSPD was commemorated in 2003 and every year, countries all over the world work to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Here are some facts we’ve compiled on the statistics around suicide, as well as what you can do to help:

27 Facts on Suicide and its Prevention:

1. Close to 800 000 people die of suicide yearly.

2. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-29 years.

3. 80% of suicide cases occur in low to middle income countries.

4. Pesticide ingestion, hanging and firearms are the leading causes of suicide globally. Reduce access to these in your home.

5. About 90% of people who complete suicide notify someone before attempting.

6. Suicidal ideations may be the first presentation of mental illness.

7. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

8. Be wary if a colleague talks of being a burden to others, being trapped, ending it all or experiencing unbearable pain

9. Women have more attempts at suicide while men have higher completion rates.

10. Be concerned when a friend suddenly increases alcohol consumption, begins to act recklessly or gives away valued possessions.

11. Talking about suicide does not make someone suicidal

12. Change in mood, anxiety, rage, irritation, depression, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activity could be early warning signs of suicide.

13. Access to treatment for conditions like depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders decreases the rates of suicide

14. Interventions like the Friendship Bench are low-cost, high impact methods of reducing the burden of suicide.

15. Stressful life events like loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss can be precipitants of suicide

16. Evidence from family and adoption studies suggests suicidality may be an inherited trait.

17. A previous suicide attempt is found in half of those who complete suicide.

18. Making available and accessible suicidal hotlines reduces the rates by up to 34%.

19. Teaching skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and non-violent ways of handling disputes are simple but effective ways of reducing suicidal ideations.

20. Even up to the actual process of killing themselves, the majority are still ambivalent about their decision to kill themselves. This provides an important window for intervention

21. Most suicidal people don’t want to die, they want to end their psychological pain and suffering

22. Most suicidal people have psychological problems, social problems, and poor methods for coping with pain – all things that mental health professionals are usually well trained to treat.

23. WHO declared suicide a public Health Priority in 2014

24. World Suicide Day is celebrated on 10 September annually.

25. Suicide is cross-cutting! It occurs in all ages, races, economic, social and ethnic groups.

26. The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019 is “Focus on Suicide Prevention”

27. Every 40 seconds someone dies of suicide.

This list in not exhaustive; there are many other statistics and facts surrounding suicide. In Zimbabwe, mental health is an issue that is often swept under the rug or ignored. However, several groups, organisations and individuals have begun the fight to destigmatize mental health and raise awareness about the issue. The more we normalize mental health issues, the more people will feel comfortable and empowered to seek help.

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