There are more deaths from suicide than from war and homicide together. (1)
Are we up to date with what is going on?
Did we know we have a World Suicide Prevention Day?
Are we aware of this?
What is this all about?
Why is suicide a global problem?
Why does anyone take their own life?
What gets inside them to make that choice?
What is going on in their life that they want to end it?
What drives someone to give up on life?
What can we really do to change things?
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) has been going since 2003 on 10 September. It is to bring attention to the public of ‘one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary death.’ (2)
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year and 20,000,000 attempt suicide. (3)
What we should all be asking is how accurate are these figures when we all know that this is a very hush hush subject in our world.
How does each country record a suicide and are there cross cultural differences which make it impossible to get real facts recorded?
We all know that research is not going to tell us why someone is ending their life.
We all know that we are not going to get a suicidal person into a lab for double blind testing.
We all know that we cannot take the mind of someone who has taken their life and study them.
We all know that most of us live in fear of having a mental health issue.
We all know that something is really wrong if suicide is on the increase.
We have 196 countries in this world of ours and only 28 countries have a national strategy for suicide prevention. (4)
Hello – can we just stop for a moment and re-read this.
That means less than 15% of our world is actually doing something. So is it any surprise that suicide is on the increase?
So we have a grand plan but if only a few are taking action, are we going to see any real change?
Suicide Prevention – World Health Organization (MHAP) Mental Health Action Plan from 2013 to 2020. (5)
- Increase public, political and media awareness of the magnitude of the problem and the availability of effective prevention strategies.
- Restrict access to the means of self-harm and suicide like firearms and pesticides.
- Promote responsible media reporting in relation to cases of suicide.
- Promote workplace initiatives for suicide prevention.
- Improve health system responses to self-harm and suicide.
- Assess and manage self-harm/suicide and associated mental, neurological and substance-use disorders.
- Optimise psychosocial support from available community resources both for those who have attempted suicide as well as for families of people who have committed suicide.
So this tells us that our World Health Organization has a mental health plan that has been going on since 2013 and they have just over 3 years left and suicide is on the increase.
Could it be possible that increasing public, political and media awareness is not happening?
Could it be possible that prevention strategies are not the answer?
Could it be possible that denying access to a gun is not going to stop someone from finding another way to end their life?
Could it be possible that our media has a long way to go when it comes to consistently promoting RESPONSIBLE media reporting?
Could it be possible that promoting workplace initiatives may miss what is actually needed?
Could it be possible that countries like the UK are cutting budgets so assessment and management is not really happening in the way it needs to?
Could it be possible that there is limited or no funding for ‘community resources’ to support those who have attempted suicide, or families of people who have committed suicide?
So to summarise, would it be fair to say that these words on paper sound like a great big plan but something is not right because suicide is actually on the increase?
Why are we not digging deeper and spending resources on this serious global issue?
Check out these statistics so we know it is a worldwide problem.
What are these bold facts spelling out to us?
WHY have we seen such a huge increase in suicide rates worldwide?
WHY are young people choosing suicide to end their life?
WHY are our youngsters’ self-harming?
WHY are we unable to figure out the root cause of depression?
WHY is substance abuse a major factor in many cases of suicide?
WHY are people using harmfull substances to cope with life?
Are we aware of the real figures of suicide in prisons?
Prisons in England and Wales
April 2013 – March 2014
69% rise in suicides
Highest level for 9 years (11)
April 2015 – March 2016
100 male self-inflicted deaths
Increase of 27% from 2014/15.
Some of these deaths were linked to the New Psychoactive Substances. (12)
In 2015 there were 25 male self-inflicted deaths within the first month of them being in prison. (12)
How many of our inner mates are suffering from depression?
Why is substance abuse going on in our prisons today?
Why are we blaming the systems and expecting the government to deal with this problem?
‘It is clear that suicide prevention requires intervention also from outside the health sector and calls for an innovative, comprehensive multi-sectoral approach, including both health and non-health sectors, e.g. education, labour, politics, justice, religion, law, politics, the media.’ (10)
We can all agree that suicide prevention requires intervention but all these ‘sectors’ are people who make up the systems.
What if it is for each of us to look at our individual responsibility to our own health and well-being.
In other words, how and what are we choosing to live every single day that is consistently supporting us to CONNECT, COMMUNICATE AND CARE?
Let’s get back to the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day theme, which is three words at the heart of suicide prevention. (3)
This is crucial and we could all agree, but what does this mean to us?
Are we choosing every day to connect with ourselves first?
Are we aware of the value and importance of engaging with another?
Do we know how to develop a self-connecting relationship with our self?
Do we find a way to connect and this could be smoking a cigarette or social media?
Do we bother to chat to the person on the train or stay with our screen?
Is keeping an eye out or checking in on someone enough?
Are we aware enough to know if someone is dis-connected?
Are we consistently taking responsibility to connect with ourselves first?
Are we committed to our own inner-most connection?
Are we living in a way that is deeply self-connecting every day?
Is connection about meeting another with no agenda?
Is connection about listening and giving another the space to say what they feel?
Is connection simply about an openness and willingness to be with another?
Does the International Association for Suicide Prevention have a valid point when they say –
Individuals, organisations and communities ALL have a responsibility here. (3)
Is the word RESPONSIBILITY what we need to focus on?
What is clear is that in many communities’ suicide is still very hush hush and not spoken about.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention are telling us to discuss suicide openly, as we would for any other public health issue and dispel the myths and reduce the stigma that surrounds this but without normalising it.
They talk about a ‘suicide prevention strategy’, but is this going to really get to the root cause of WHY people commit suicide?
Are we equipped to deal with another in a truly compassionate way, which requires listening and a non-judgmental approach?
How judgmental are we really in our daily life and would this rub off in any way when we are with another or can we make it just disappear?
Are we able to conduct ‘sensitively-managed conversations’?
Do we have the natural skills or do we have to learn this?
Do we agree with the International Association of Suicide Prevention when they say –
The media also have an important role to play in suicide prevention.
“Media recommendations have been developed by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization to assist journalists in getting stories right”. (13)
‘All the connecting and communicating in the world will have no effect without the final ingredient – care. We need to make sure that policy-makers and planners care enough about suicide prevention to make it a priority and to fund it at a level that is commensurate with its significance as a public health problem.’ (3)
We would all agree that this is a great statement because it makes sense.
Could it be possible that the policy-makers and the planners need to self-care first?
Could it be possible that self-care has to be a priority in our own life?
Could it be possible that true self-care requires a way of living every day that is consistent?
Could it be possible that the missing ingredient is our own individual responsibility when it comes to self-care?
‘On September 10th join with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Check in on someone you may be concerned about and start a caring conversation with them, asking them how they’re going’. (3)
WHY do we wait for a date in the calendar to get going?
WHY are we not starting right now?
WHY do we need an annual reminder that suicide is on the increase?
WHY is it that we don’t have real figures about our global suicide problem?
Could it be possible that TRUE RESPONSIBILITY starts with ‘checking in’ with ourselves first and having a ‘caring conversation’ with ourselves?
Imagine if we knocked out all disregarding ways of living.
Imagine if we developed ways to no longer abuse our body.
Imagine if we learned how to breathe correctly.
Imagine if we could support ourselves so we don’t check out.
Imagine knowing what we need so we do not numb ourselves.
Imagine a life of not neglecting our feelings.
Imagine honouring what we feel all the time.
Imagine a life of saying what we feel and not holding back.
Imagine caring for ourselves like a precious baby.
Imagine committing to life so we feel a part of the world.
Imagine living with the knowing that we do make a difference.
As the author of this blog, I can say the above is possible and it comes down to making simple daily choices with Responsibility and that means to not harm self, others, or our environment.
How can we as individuals make a difference?
What is it that we need to say or do that can change the increasing rates of suicide?
Does our World Health Organization have all the answers we need about suicide?
Is wearing a ribbon or cycling around the globe going to change anything in the long term?
Could it be possible to say – We are far away from the real issue of suicide.
How have we ‘reduced’ in some form the seriousness of suicide by ribbons and marathons?
Are we missing something?
Could it be possible that we need to apply common sense?
Could it be possible that we each have a responsibility?
Could it be possible that we need to learn how to connect with ourselves first?
Could it be possible we need to develop listening to our own inner-most feelings?
Could it be possible that we can educate others from our own lived way?
Could it be possible that if we made a choice to live our natural way, it would end the need for harmfull substances?
Could it be possible that if we made a choice to commit to life, our depression would not dominate our life force?
In other words, if we each done our bit by taking responsibility in the way we choose to
FIRST for ourselves, then it is this quality from our way of being in the world that would inspire others to do the same.
Could it be that simple?
We have statistics of those who actually go through with ending their life.
But what is the real impact and is it ten times greater than these statistics are showing us?
What about ALL those that suicide affects?
What about the families who suffer?
What about the friends and work colleagues?
What about the community?
What about those who self-harm but never make it as a statistic?
Are we aware that we do not have real figures for this serious global issue?
In truth, how many people are truly affected when one person suicides?
Could it be possible that our role is to bring this type of conversation into our everyday down to earth chit chat, so more and more people become aware?
Could it be possible that if we bring this way of communication to others the tides may turn?
Could it be possible that if we start to open up, talk and expand on what we know and are aware of, others can get the opportunity to equally feel how serious suicide is in our world today?
Could it be possible that if we don’t do the chit chat and stop talking then we ‘reduce’ the problem?
Could it be possible that it is this type of ‘reductionism’ why so many of us are simply not aware of what is going on in our world?
If you are feeling suicidal, contact your GP for support or the Suicide Helplines.
In a crisis contact your emergency services.
UK – Samaritans available 24 hours
Tel: 116 123
Childline – for children and young people
Tel: 0800 1111
USA – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Check International Association for Suicide Prevention Resources on Crisis Centers
(1) (n.d). Suicide: Facts and Figures. World Health Organization
(2) (2016). World Suicide Prevention Day
(3) World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September, 2016. International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)
(4) (2016). Mental Health – Suicide Prevention. World Health Organization
(5) (2013). Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020. World Health Organization
(6) World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring Health for SDGs. Annex A – Target 3.4 – Indicator 3.4.2: Suicide Mortality Rate. World Health Organization
(7) (2016). Suicide Facts. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
(8) Holt, G. (2011, August 3). When Suicide Was Illegal
(9) (2016, February 4). Suicides in the United Kingdom: 2014 Registrations. Office for National Statistics
(10) (2016). Mental Health – Background of SUPRE – Prevention of Suicidal Behaviours: A Task for All. World Health Organization
(11) Travis, A. (2014, July 31). Official Figures Reveal Rising Violence in Prisons in England and Wales
(12) (2016). HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales. Annual Report 2015 -16. HM Inspectorate of Prisons (p.8, pp.18 – 19)
(13) (n.d). International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) – Resources: Suicide and the Media