On this day, we felt it was important to share what the International Association for Suicide Prevention has written for this years World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life. And this is happening in spite of the fact that suicide is preventable. 'Connect, communicate, care' is the theme of the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day. These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention.
Fostering connections with those who have lost a loved one to suicide or have been suicidal themselves is crucial to furthering suicide prevention efforts. Although every individual suicide is different, there are some common lessons to be learned. Those who have been on the brink of suicide themselves can help us understand the complex interplay of events and circumstances that led them to that point, and what saved them or helped them to choose a more life-affirming course of action. Those who have lost someone to suicide, or supported someone who was suicidal, can provide insights into how they moved forwards on their journey. The sheer numbers of people who have been affected by suicide would make this a formidable network.
Of course, these connections should be two-way. There will often be times when those who have been bereaved by suicide, and those who might be feeling suicidal themselves, need support. Keeping an eye out for them and checking that they are okay could make all the difference. Social connectedness reduces the risk of suicide, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be a life-saving act. Connecting them with formal and informal supports may also help to prevent suicide. Individuals, organizations and communities all have a responsibility here.
Open communication is vital if we are to combat suicide. In many communities, suicide is shrouded in silence or spoken of only in hushed tones. We need to discuss suicide as we would any other public health issue if we are to dispel myths about it and reduce the stigma surrounding it. This is not to say that we shouldn’t exercise necessary caution; we don’t want to normalize suicide either. Careful, considered messages about suicide and its prevention are warranted, as is an awareness of how different groups of individuals may receive and interpret this information.
Equipping people to communicate effectively with those who might be vulnerable to suicide is an important part of any suicide prevention strategy. Broaching the subject of suicide is difficult, and these sorts of conversations are often avoided. There are some simple tips that can help, however. Most of these relate to showing compassion and empathy, and listening in a non-judgemental way. People who have come through an episode of extreme suicidal thinking often say that sensitively-managed conversations with others helped them on their course to recovery.
All the connecting and communicating in the world will have no effect without the final ingredient – care. We need to make sure that policy-makers and planners care enough about suicide prevention to make it a priority, and to fund it at a level that is commensurate with its significance as a public health problem.
We need to make sure that clinicians and other service providers care enough about it to make suicide prevention their core business. And we need to make sure that communities care enough about it to be able to identify and support those who may be at heightened risk.
Most of all, we need to ensure that we are caring ourselves. We need to look out for others who may be struggling, and let them tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Those who have been affected by suicide have much to teach us in this regard.
Connect, communicate and care on World Suicide Prevention Day
On September 10th, join with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Check in on someone you may be concerned about, and start a caring conversation with them, asking them how they’re going. Investigate ways of connecting with others who are trying to prevent suicide in your community, your country, or internationally. Show your support by taking part in the International Association for Suicide Prevention's Cycle Around the Globe.
We feel it's important to also address Postpartum Depression during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 1 in 7 of women will experience PPD and 1 in 5 of these women will have thoughts of harming themselves. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in postpartum women. What can you do to help? Educate yourself about PPD. Most women with PPD suffer in silence. Let's change this! We encourage you to read this article.
This is the real deal. These statistics are real and very scary. Many mom's suffer from this, and if you are a mom and are anything like me, (I too, even being a mental health professional) suffered in silence for way too long.
Lots of women feel overwhelmed, guilty and anxious during a time that we are told is supposed to be full of great joy. You may be wondering if other new moms feel this way, too, or if adjusting to the demands of a new baby really are more challenging for you.
First, take a deep breath, give yourself some credit for all you do, and recognize that you are not alone. Between 10 – 20% of women suffer from Perinatal Mood Disorders (or PPMDs), which can occur during pregnancy and postpartum. One in five mothers report experiencing some level of postpartum depression (PPD).
Having a baby – whether it’s your first or fourth – requires a significant amount of energy and is a major life transition. Although it may not feel like it, you are likely doing many more things right than wrong.
With that said, if you feel like you are, or are wondering if you are suffering with PPD/A, just know that you DO NOT need to suffer in silence any longer. There is help out there!
A great resource is Postpartum Progress. If you are wondering if you too may be struggling with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, I encourage you to read this article titled "The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English)." The author does a fantastic job of helping mom's understand in words that do make sense. You can also take a screening here that you can provide to your health care professional.
Just know, that if you are a struggling mom with postpartum suffering in silence, you ARE NOT ALONE and there is help out there! We also offer a FREE, that's right , FREE Postpartum Depression/Anxiety Support Group here. We also have qualified counselors and consultants here at the Center for Personal Wellness who have experience working with moms with PPD/A, and we can even offer online counseling for certain clients. Research suggests that internet-based treatment could have a positive effect on postnatal depression as a whole, providing new moms with support at times which are convenient to them and allowing them to complete a course of therapy.
BE AWARE OF THE WARNING SIGNS
Are you or someone you love at risk of suicide? Get the facts and take appropriate action.
Get help immediately should you witness, hear, or see anyone exhibiting any one or more of the following:
BE AWARE OF THE FACTS
WAYS TO BE HELPFUL TO SOMEONE WHO IS THREATENING SUICIDE
If this is an emergency...
Your life is extremely valuable, and people care about you. If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger of harming him or herself, please call 911 immediately. Stay on the phone with the operator and wait for help to arrive. Otherwise, if you have suicidal thoughts or feelings of complete hopelessness, please contact us or another mental health professional as soon as possible. You can also call the suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE, 24 hours per day.