Light a Candle for World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10
As we observe Sept. 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and World Health Organization (WHO) are encouraging people to show support by lighting a candle near a window at 8 p.m. on the day of observance.
The awareness day seeks to engage people around the world in supporting prevention efforts, remembering loved ones lost, and recognizing survivors of suicide and the volunteers and practitioners who help alleviate suffering through evidence-based research and practices.
More than 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds – and up to 25 times more make a suicide attempt.
“Showing care and concern to someone who is vulnerable can make the difference,” said Monarch Behavioral Therapist Bill Garrot. “Listening in a non-judgmental way can begin the conversation that leads a person to seek help.”
Garrot noted that, while the link between suicide and mental disorders – especially depression and substance use disorders – is well-established, many suicides happen impulsively in response to life crises such as financial issues, relationships or chronic illness.
Contrary to popular belief, talking about suicide does not give someone the idea. In actuality, bringing up the subject of suicide and talking about it openly is one of the most helpful things to do. Another myth involving suicide is that people who talk about suicide will not really do it. Thus, any statement indicating a suicidal threat – no matter if said casually or in jest, should not be ignored.
If you know someone who is experiencing issues and may be considering suicide, Garrot suggests the following ways to offer support:
Be available. People who are considering suicide often feel isolated and don’t want to “bother” others who are busy with their lives. Let the person know you are aware they are struggling and are interested and open to offering support.
Watch for warning signs. Hopelessness and anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, increasing alcohol or drug abuse, and engaging in risky behavior can all be signals that a person needs help.
Listen; don’t lecture. Allow the person to talk openly about their feelings, without referencing “good” or “bad” feelings or talking about the value of life.
Help them find help. Offer encouragement and assistance in connecting the person with local resources such as a counselor or support group to begin the journey toward health and healing. It is a myth that people who want to commit suicide are unwilling to seek help. Most are willing to do so but may need the support of family and friends to take the first step towards recovery.
For support, call Monarch at (866) 272-7826 or www.MonarchNC.org. Other important resources include:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or suicidepreventionlifeline.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine at (800) 950-6264 or www.nami.org
Mental Health America – www.mentalhealthamerica.net/
National Institute of Mental Health – www.nimh.nih.gov
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) – www.samhsa.gov/ or www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/
American Psychological Association (APA) – www.apa.org/