Last reviewed 9 September 2021
Falling every year on 10 September, the day promotes open, honest and genuine conversations about suicide. This year the theme is “Creating hope through action”.
One in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide. This worrying statistic is from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). This organisation works to raise awareness of, and reduce the stigma around, suicide so as to reduce suicide numbers on a global scale.
Creating hope through action
This year’s theme serves to remind us all that there is always an alternative to suicide. Everyone has the potential to intervene and be a light of hope to someone who is struggling. We can help to reduce the number of suicides globally by reaching out to friends, family, strangers and colleagues.
Suicidal thoughts are confusing and complex. There isn’t always an obvious reason for this feeling. People with existing medical conditions such as anxiety or depression may be more vulnerable to suicide. Sometimes, it can be life events that trigger suicidal thoughts.
We know that what works for one person may not help another. So what actions can we take that won’t make a situation worse?
Look out for people who are struggling. When people are suffering, they tend not to speak up for fear of embarrassment or judgment, or simply because they cannot imagine how anything will make them feel better. Look out for people in your life who don’t seem like their usual selves. Pay attention to mood shifts, changes in sleep and an increased drug or alcohol usage. If you intervene early, you're more likely to make an impact. You don’t have to do anything particular. Just show that person that you are interested and there for them.
Check in with those close to you. It is important to check in with the people in your life regularly. Your call might be the contact they need to prevent their feelings from worsening or to allow them to ask for help.
An ear of empathy. Don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse. You don’t need to have all the answers. Research shows that compassion, empathy, connection and a non-judgmental approach are the best ways to support someone feeling alone. All you have to do is listen.
Spread the word. Raising awareness around suicide is the first step to reshaping the narrative. This is something we can all play a part in. Share educational materials on mental health with people you know.
Light a candle. The IASP is encouraging people to light a candle on 10 September. At 8pm, light a candle and pop it in the window as a symbol of support for suicide prevention. It's also a way to remember lost loved ones and survivors of suicide.
Know the support available. Whether you or someone you know is struggling, it’s important to know what support is available. In the UK, you can find a list of helplines on the NHS website Help for suicidal thoughts. There are also email addresses and text numbers for when you don’t want to talk.