Every year more than 800,000 people in the world take their own life, which is approximately 1 death every 40 seconds. It is also the second leading cause of death amongst 15 – 29 year olds, with men being three times more likely to commit suicide than women.
It’s easy to state statistics and facts. It isn’t easy to comprehend the devastating outcome that these facts are depicting.
Today, the 10th September 2015, is World Suicide Prevention Day and unfortunately there is still a great ‘taboo’ around mental health conditions. Many claim suicide is selfish, many say its attention seeking. This is, of course, nonsensical. One of the main problems with mental health conditions is that it prevents you from behaving or thinking “normally” (whatever “normally” is…) Someone suffering from a mental health condition is not thinking like someone who is in full health, the same way that someone who’s drowning is not “breathing air” like a person on land is. The situation is different. From the sufferers perspective, their self-worth may be so low, their outlook so bleak, that their families and friends would be a lot better off without them in the world and so their suicide is actually intended as an act of generosity. Whatever the circumstance, don’t presume you know what or why it has come to this, just know that it has and that you may be able to help in as simple a step as asking “Are you okay?”
Samaritans believe letting someone know they’re not alone and that someone is there to listen can make a big difference – even at really difficult times.
A Samaritans spokesman said sharing a problem is the first step to finding a way through it: “It takes a bit of bravery, but if you suspect someone’s having a tough time, reach out if you can. Let them talk and just listen – try not to judge. If they make it clear they don’t want to talk to you, let them know Samaritans is here, round the clock every single day of the year, for anyone who needs the space to think and talk in confidence.”
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland says while you can’t take on another person’s troubles, you can let them know you care: “If you ask, ‘Are you OK?’ and show you are there to listen, people are far less likely to feel they have to go it alone with their troubles, often it’s not about looking for someone to fix a problem – sometimes the biggest help can be having someone to share it with.”
It seems so simple, and it could make the biggest of differences. Take a look at your watch. How long has it taken you to read this message? One, two, three minutes? That means in the time it has taken you to read this there may just have been nearly 5 suicides. 5 lives that could have possibly been saved if they had been asked are they okay.
So help fight the stigma and make sure you ask your friends and loved ones if they are okay today. You never know who might just need to hear it.
If you yourself are struggling we, at Global Health, want you to know that:
you do matter, you are loved and life is worth living.
Samaritans offer round-the-clock support for anyone and everyone, whoever they are, however they are feeling, and whatever life has done to them. People can contact Samaritans in confidence by phone, email, text or face to face. Anyone who wants to talk in confidence to Samaritans can visit http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us for contact details.