World Suicide Prevention Day was created in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, in collaboration with The World Health Orgnaization, in an attempt to create international awareness about suicide and suicide prevention.
The WHO classifies suicide as a serious public health problem citing approximately 20 million suicide attempts and 800,000 deaths by suicide every year around the globe. WSPD aims to spread awareness about this important issue by hosting community events, starting conversations and creating meaningful connections via social media. Last year during the week of WSPD, the hashtags #WSPD, WSPD2020 and #SuicidePrevention trended on Twitter and was shared over a half a million times starting an unprecedented global conversation about the topic of suicide.
Since its inception nineteen years ago, WSPD has grown significantly and is now celebrated in over 60 countries. On September 1st, 2020, IASP released ‘Step Closer’, a film that highlights the importance of people working together in the fight against suicide. So today, on the 19th WSPD, in the spirit of working together and making a difference, here are a couple of small yet important ways you and your loved ones can get involved:
- Share your story online or in-person about how you have been impacted by suicide
- Share your support for those who have been impacted.
- Watch ‘Step Closer’ with your friends and family and start a conversation about the importance of transparency and support surrounding mental health.
- Attend a local community event and learn more about how your community is responding to this public health issue.
- Share information you learn along your journey with those you care about.
Frequently asked questions:
What should I do if I am having suicidal thoughts?
First, reach out to someone you trust and have a conversation. Having suicidal thoughts can be unsettling and scary, but it is not uncommon. Seek out support from a loved one and share with them you are struggling. Second, if you and your loved one believe that you need additional support due to the severity or frequency of these thoughts, reach out to a mental health professional or dial 911. A professional can assist you in assessing the seriousness of your symptoms and guide you in making decisions to keep you safe.
What should I do if a loved one is having suicidal thoughts?
If a loved one reaches out to you and shares they are having suicidal thoughts, the good news is that they came to you and that you can help. First, be sure to listen attentively and ask questions to assess if they are in imminent danger of harming themselves. If they have a plan or are struggling in not carrying out that plan, dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255) to seek immediate medical and professional assistance.
If your loved one is having these intrusive thoughts but has no plan or intentions of carrying out that plan, be sure to listen, ask curious/non judgmental questions and check in with them often. Additionally, ask them if they would find it helpful to speak to a mental health professional to process the emotions or events that may be contributing to their feelings of hopelessness.
Resources and Hotlines
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 (24 hrs/free)
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 (24hrs/free)
Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org
International Association for Suicide Prevention https://www.iasp.info/wspd2021/about/
National Suicide Prevention Hotline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education https://save.org/find-help/im-having-suicidal-thoughts/
The Light Program https://thelightprogram.pyramidhealthcarepa.com/how-to-cope-with-suicidal-thoughts/
World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide