world suicide prevention day

World Suicide Prevention Day: Saving Precious Lives

Every year, when September 10 rolls around, we unite globally to observe World Suicide Prevention Day. Headed by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization, this day breaks the silence surrounding a grave issue —suicide. 

World Suicide Prevention Day signifies more than drawing attention to the sheer volume of individuals we lose to suicide. It also aims to cultivate an environment conducive to open discussion about it, its triggers, and ways to prevent it. Read on to learn more about this event.

Featured in: September - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

World Suicide Prevention Day History and Background

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), gave birth to the World Suicide Prevention Day initiative in 2003. Celebrating it yearly, the world’s purpose, as the event name indicates, is to establish a global commitment to prevent suicide.

Enter Brian Mishara, Co-founder of IASP, who pivotally set World Suicide Prevention Day in motion. His resolve and leadership, with notable contributions from health experts like WHO's Dr. Alexandra Fleischmann, brought the initiative a sense of urgency and credibility. 

The year 2015, they brought another significant triumph. The United Nations lent its official recognition to the day, giving it much-needed global acknowledgment. The ripple effect was immediate. Participation in World Suicide Prevention Day activities increased worldwide.

Moreover, event themes vary throughout the year, focusing on age, culture, and different ways to tackle the issue. And since 2018, IASP has implemented triennial themes to further hammer down the message. From 2018 to 2020, it was "Working Together to Prevent Suicide," from 2021 to 2023, the ongoing theme was “Creating Hope Through Action."

The awareness day has come a long way in two decades — from the release of WHO’s comprehensive World Suicide Report in 2014 to the triennial themes in the last years. It's more than just an observance—a call to collective action.

The Cause and Its Challenge

World Suicide Prevention Day highlights suicide, a worldwide concern claiming more than 700,000 lives yearly. The issue affects anyone, regardless of age, race, or wealth status. 

Data says suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 29. Moreover, 77% of suicides worldwide occur among low and middle-income countries. These numbers show how it should be a public health priority.

Suicides are preventable, but it is not as simple since it is closely tied to various issues such as mental health crises, addiction, discrimination, poverty, and many more. On top of that is the stigma. With every death, there are many more suicide attempts that we cannot count. 

We must address these risk factors by solving other global issues and providing those who struggle with a safe space to talk and heal.

Related Read: World Mental Health Day, National Recovery Month, World Refugee Day.

5 More Facts About the World Suicide Prevention Day

Here are five more facts from WHO’s Suicide Worldwide in 20192:

  • Suicide caused more than one in every 100 deaths.
  • The suicide rate was 2.3 times higher in males than in females.
  • 58% of suicide deaths occur before the age of 50.
  • Approximately 20% of worldwide suicides result from pesticide self-poisoning, primarily occurring in rural agricultural regions of low to middle-income countries, with other common means being hanging and firearms.
  • A person with depression is 20 times more likely to commit suicide than those without the illness1.

Efforts and Initiative

white poppy
Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

Collaborative efforts are shaping the fight against global suicide. Of course, there’s the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention spearheading this battle. 

For instance, the WHO started the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP). Launched in 2008, it targets to increase service provisions for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders.

Furthermore, in their Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030, WHO Member States aim to reduce suicide rates to one-third by 2030.

On the other hand, IASP initiated the Cycle Around The Globe campaign that encourages participants worldwide to raise awareness about suicide and collect funds for suicide prevention.

Parallel to these, other organizations are upping the game in innovative ways. Take the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), for example. They organize "Out of the Darkness" walks - a clever blend of fundraising for research and education and breaking down barriers to mental health discussions. 

Internationally, the Zero Suicide Alliance in the United Kingdom is empowering ordinary people with free online training modules – turning them into first responders to curb suicides by supporting those in need.

Finally, the government's landmark mental health policy came to life in India in 2014. They're paving the way for community-based mental health care and fighting the weight of stigma over mental health issues. 

Interestingly, inputting the term suicide into search engines prompts the display of local helplines as top results.

This multi-front approach demonstrates the potential of a united, global effort in suicide prevention. True, the journey is long, but every step forward counts.

Simple Ways To Reach Out

Several non-profit organizations have also supported the cause and launched their own initiatives. This section will outline the National Council for Suicide Prevention’s Take 5 to Save Lives campaign.

  1. Learn - Understanding suicide warning signs and saving local suicide crisis info help those who may be at risk. 
  2. Know - Creating a safe environment and reaching out to professionals can aid in preventing suicide.
  3. Do - Advocating, volunteering, and raising awareness in homes, schools, and workplaces can save lives.
  4. Talk - Open discussions about suicide can reduce stigma and encourage those who need help to ask for it openly.
  5. Share - Sharing these steps can educate and engage others in suicide prevention efforts.

We found more resources to explore: National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s BeThe1To, and California Mental Health Services Authority’s Know the Signs.

How to Get Involved and Support Suicide Prevention

supporting others
Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash
  • Wear a suicide prevention ribbon that is half purple and half teal.
  • Learn about suicide warning signs and risk factors.
  • Share statistics and helpful resources about suicide on your social media. 
  • Participate in community awareness event such as IASP’s Cycle Around the Globe.
  • Reach out to anyone you think might be struggling, especially to those you already know with self-harm tendencies.
  • Donate to your local suicide prevention organizations.
  • Attend a mental health workshop or a mental health first aid training.
  • Encourage open conversations with the help of our mental health language guide.
  • Promote resources like local helplines and mental health services.

Conclusion

World Suicide Prevention Day isn't just a date on the calendar. It's a light that shatters the societal silence surrounding the issue of suicide. It's a call for understanding, a plea to replace judgment with empathy, denial with acceptance, and indifference with compassion.

Remember, your actions can bring about change. As we move forward from World Suicide Prevention Day, remember that our combined efforts can make a significant difference. We can help to prevent suicide. So, let's do it. A simple question of “How are you?” comes a long way.

World Suicide Prevention Day FAQs

1. When is World Suicide Prevention Day?

World Suicide Prevention Day, every September 10, is a global event to focus attention on suicide prevention.

2. Why is suicide prevention important?

With suicide as a worldwide health concern, prevention is vital to saving lives and aiding those facing mental health issues.

3. How can I support World Suicide Prevention Day?

Promote World Suicide Prevention Day by boosting awareness, sharing resources, talking openly about mental health, and backing suicide prevention organizations.

4. What are some warning signs of suicidal behavior?

Warning signs of suicide include discussing it, navigating feelings of hopelessness, disconnection from social activities and drastic changes in behavior or mood.

5. Where can I find help or resources for suicide prevention?

Help for suicide prevention is available globally at places like the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (USA), Samaritans (UK), Lifeline (Australia), and many more.

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1

Ferrari, A. J., Norman, R., Freedman, G., Baxter, A. J., Pirkis, J., Harris, M., Page, A., Carnahan, E., Degenhardt, L., Vos, T., & Whiteford, H. (2014). The Burden Attributable to Mental and Substance Use Disorders as Risk Factors for Suicide: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. PLOS ONE, 9(4), e91936.

2

Mental Health and Substance Use. (2021). Suicide worldwide in 2019. www.who.int.

Isabela is a determined millennial passionate about continuously seeking out ways to make an impact. With a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering with honors, Isabela’s research expertise and interest in artistic works, coupled with a creative mindset, offers readers a fresh take on different environmental, social, and personal development topics.

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