Today is International Mental Health Day as designated by the World Health Organization. For 2019, the focus is on suicide prevention. This subject has become more prevalent in media and otherwise as a result of what could be considered its epidemic proportions.
Most of us know someone who has attempted suicide, a few of us know someone who succeeded. The only thing worse than the emotional hell they were living in, is being here without them, and wishing we could’ve done something to prevent their death.
Approximately 800,000 people commit suicide annually. To help break that down for you, we lose someone every 40 seconds to suicide. And those are the individuals who are successful. The ones who aren’t successful are rarely known, much less counted. Overwhelming, isn’t it?
Now try to imagine the silent hell they must have been going through. I’m always stunned when people proclaim suicide as selfish or lazy. Surely those individuals have no comprehension of what it is to suffer from a depression so dark you feel like you can’t breathe. It may best be explained as an overwhelming feeling of emotional pain so deep, that it manifests itself in a very physical way.
If someone is suicidal, that’s what it feels like. And then some. So, please don’t assume that they are lazy or not trying hard enough. You don’t “get over” a deep depression that takes you to the threshold of suicide. It isn’t that simple. It takes work and a lot of help to overcome.
For those of you who may know someone suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please be aware, patient, and kind. There are little things you can do, without any formal training, that can guide someone in the right direction. Carry a card in your wallet with a suicide hotline number. Hand it to someone who makes an offhand comment about suicide. So what if they laugh and say they were kidding? At least you’ll be able to sleep that night, instead of worrying that you should have done something.
Workplaces are getting on the bandwagon for suicide prevention too. If you are in Human Resources for your organization and have the opportunity to set-up a prevention plan, there are multiple free resources available to facilitate that process. The World Health Organization website has flyers you can download, as well as, informative videos.
In honor of the life that is lost to suicide every 40 seconds, let’s take 40 seconds to act. Whether it is finding a hotline number and putting it in your wallet for that surprise scenario, or providing your workplace with helpful info, doing something is paramount. Remember, your action today could save someone’s life tomorrow.