Every year around 703,000 people die by suicide, and yet the number is still not alarming enough for the world to take drastic and real measures toward suicide prevention. With September 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day, organizations and mental health advocates are rallying to raise awareness, break the stigma, and educate people about the severity and reality of mental illness and suicide.
But the reality of things is that the conversation around suicide needs to be normalized to help people in need.
One day is not enough to raise awareness or break the stigma.
One day is not enough to save thousands of lives.
More needs to be done. More has to be done.
To create hope, encourage people to ask for help, and help prevent suicide, communities, leaders, and organizations have to actively work towards introducing programs that highlight the gravity of suicide and its impact. The World Health Organization even gave the World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 - 2023 the theme of “Creating hope through action” as a way to encourage proactive measures.
‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide. It aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us. We want to encourage understanding, reaching in and sharing experiences, as showcased in these #WSPD2021 illustrations .— IASP (@IASPinfo) September 9, 2021
To help ease the burden and lend a helping hand to those in need, it is imperative that we talk more about suicide and diminish the shame that comes with it.
Here are some ways you can help someone open up about their struggles:
- Talk to them about it
Sometimes all someone needs are someone to listen. It can be quite difficult and hard to listen to a loved one talk about their suicidal ideation but the first step to helping them is to show them that you care without judgment. It is also pivotal that you do not make them feel like their struggles are making you worry or feel uncomfortable. Remember this is about THEM, and your role is to listen with an open mind and without any judgment.
- Encourage them to seek professional help
While talking to them can be beneficial, it is also crucial to understand that your role is to support and help them. You are not a professional and you should not act like one. Therefore, make sure that you encourage them to seek professional help.
- Ask your loved ones how they are doing
Many of us are used to throwing around the question, “how are you?” without really waiting for an honest and real answer. Because the reality of things is that it is much easier to fake a smile and say we are fine than to dig deep and let it all out.
That is why we need to be more mindful of how we ask questions. If we feel like a loved one might be struggling, reach out and show them you are here to listen and help.
Sometimes, one question asked with empathy and support can be the push someone needs to talk.
- Be vocal about advocating for mental illness
You cannot expect someone to reach out to you if they see you joking about mental illness and suicide. In fact, when you treat something as serious as suicide with little to no importance, chances are you are making things worse for those suffering. Sometimes people joke around without meaning any harm but in reality jokes can be very harmful.
Not only that but laughing at jokes is just as bad as making them. We need to start calling out people who are making trivial and inappropriate jokes about serious topics. It is on us to change the narrative and be aware of the words we use.
Being mindful of our words and showing our support for mental illness and suicide prevention can show others that they are not alone, that their pain is real and valid, and that people are here to help.
Prevention is much more important than intervention. We need more people who are willing to speak up, raise awareness, and advocate for suicide prevention every single day.
Talking and raising awareness can save someone’s life.
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