World Suicide Prevention Day


World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world.

What’s the campaign?

The campaign is a joint collaboration between the World Health Organisation, the World Federation for Mental Health and the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
This year sees the start of a theme called Working Together to Prevent Suicide, which will be retained for WSPD in 2019 and 2020.

The website states this theme was chosen as it “highlights the most essential ingredient for effective global suicide prevention – collaboration”.

“Every 90 minutes a life is lost to suicide in the UK. Globally a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. There are also many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has attempted suicide”.

It touches the lives of people in every corner of society – from builders to doctors, actors to the unemployed and homeless. It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 and men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

“It is rarely talked about, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now”.

Unfortunately, my own cousin committed suicide 28 years ago.  Remembering him today, the gentle soul that he was who was taken from life too early still brings feelings of sadness.  The aftershock on family, friends, colleagues is very traumatic.  Anyone who suffers such a loss, whether a family member, friend or colleague can be left wondering what they could have done differently.  It is just as important to get help and support of you have suffered a loss and are struggling.  It is important for you to talk to someone too and also ask for help.

There are a number of different organisations that can help from your GP and local charities with qualified professionals.

How can you help?

When stress, depression and anxiety hit so hard that someone feels suicidal, reaching out and asking for help can be the hardest thing in the world to do, so we have to continually reach in. Just reaching out to someone and offering a helping hand and some comfort can make a difference. Many people worry about what to say or that they may say something that makes the situation worse.  In reality, the listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope.

Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life.

What to look out for

We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family &  society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.

What can companies do to help?

Today is a great day to remind people of what help and support is already available to employees, whether that is an Employee Assistance Programme, a chat with HR or their line manager or a wellbeing programme that can help them.

Of course, these are all ongoing activities, not just ones that are focussed on for Mental Health Awareness, Stress Awareness and Suicide Prevention Day, they should be worked on all year round.  However, while the focus is on suicide prevention in social media and on the news it is a good time to raise awareness.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to support your employees then I would love to connect.

Here’s my calendar link to make finding time easy.