10 September: World Suicide Prevention Day

by Helen G // 10 September 2010, 07:30

Tags: suicide, World Suicide Prevention Day

"Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention across the World"

World Suicide Prevention Day banner and link to website

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that on average, almost 3000 people die by suicide daily, representing a "global" mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) website, although there are significant differences in the profiles and circumstances of suicidal individuals in different parts of the world, nevertheless it's clear that feeling connected is an important factor in the mental health of everyone:

It is often asked, how can we best connect with each other in a world that appears so disconnected? We strongly believe that if our communities work towards being better connected, through sharing information, expertise and time, we can do a great deal to help those who are in need, desperate, and vulnerable to suicide.

As a focal point for this aim, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed each year on 10 September and the IASP website - link here - has numerous suggestions to enable anyone to get involved.

This year we are starting a new activity which anyone can do in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention and awareness, survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones. It is called "Light a Candle on World Suicide Prevention Day at 8 PM."

The idea - a simple gesture of empathy - is that, at 8pm on 10 September, participants light a candle near a window as a way of showing support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide.

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WSPD banner downloaded from http://www.iasp.info/wspd/2010_wspd_banner.php

Comments From You

Lindsey // Posted 10 September 2010 at 11:01

That explains why the Samaritans were handing out pens with their phone number on in the train station... Thanks for the explanation :)

Anon // Posted 10 September 2010 at 15:39

My best friend took her life 5 years ago. I remember her every day.

Douglas Quaid // Posted 15 September 2010 at 04:31

Quite excellent that you raise this, many people are driven to suicide by quite awful abuse and it's a shame we dont' see more people prosecuted for casuing these deaths. We really need to look at the root cases of suicide rather than soley sticking up safety barriers everywhere or controlling medicines.

I note you make no mention of the breakdown of suicide vicitms by gender which is disappointing.

For those that don't know the radio is 4:1 in terms of suicides by men and women.

Helen G // Posted 15 September 2010 at 07:54

Douglas: There may be many reasons for a person to complete suicide and I'm not sure the idea of prosecuting other people for 'causing' it would be workable.

Also, please would you be so kind as to let me know the source of the 4:1 statistic that you quote?

Hannah // Posted 15 September 2010 at 09:26

Here's an academic article that uses the 4:1 gender ratio found on google: http://www.springerlink.com/content/5f3vvvhyv6aww1nq/

I think the gender breakdown is interesting and worth mentioning, but perhaps this is a chance for men's activism to step in rather than asking why feminsts aren't doing anything about it. Not that I'm saying that was your argument Douglas, it's just that it's one I often encounter.

Helen G // Posted 15 September 2010 at 10:03

Thanks for the link, Hannah.

cim // Posted 15 September 2010 at 10:17

It's also worth noting that the ratio alone hides that more suicide attempts are made by women than men (but men are more likely to pick irreversibly and rapidly fatal methods and so die as a result more frequently). There are gender issues here - including ones that harm men - but they aren't the ones that the raw ratio initially suggests.

A J // Posted 15 September 2010 at 12:20

What's quite interesting about the gender ratio is suicides is how it's changed over time. This paper is very interesting (though I'm afraid requires a subscription or academic login) to read in full:

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/06/02/ije.dyq094

Male rates have always been higher than female rates, but the actual levels have varied quite significantly at various points. The highest female rate was in the 1960s, which surprised me.

I don't think prosecuting people who 'drive' others to suicide is usually a good way of dealing with things. Outside some particular situations, things are usually a lot more complicated that that suggests. Whether male or female, we should concentrate our efforts on helping people escape from the sort of despair that drives them to contemplate suicide in the first place, and try to help them find some hope for the future, when that is possible. I suppose its one of those things we'll never fully eliminate, sadly.

And then there's the whole issue of suicide in the context of terminal illness, or major disability, which is an even more complex and controversial topic...

Douglas Quaid // Posted 15 September 2010 at 18:17

I wasn't suggesting somehow making a criminal offence of causing suicide. My point is that many suicides could be prevented if we had a more equal society and if existing laws were enforced. We need to see prosecutions or at least action taken against those committing the sort of offences which contribute to suicides - domestic abuse, bullying, false allegations, child abuse, parental alienation etc.

Also I wasn't criticising feminists for any lack of action, although I am critical of the fact that feminists (and almost everyone else for that matter) fail to highlight gender differences every single time when it's the men faring the worst, whereas any time women suffer even slightly more than men then it's headline news and deemed to be a major problem.

I would take issue with your assessment that men's activists somehow have to tackle the problem. We really shouldn't discriminate in this way, I care about people whether they are male or female and everyone should be looking to reduce the huge number of vicitms (regardless of what sex they happen to be). The domestic violence sector shows how disastrous it can be to only help victims of one gender, we mustn't repeat mistakes like that again.

Anyway thanks once again for highlighting such a hugely important issue which gets ignored all too often.

polly // Posted 16 September 2010 at 08:56

Re: suicide in the case of major disability - there have been a few high profile cases recently where the carers of children/adult offspring with learning disabilities have killed themselves, often it seems after seeking help and not receiving it. Like Fiona Pilkington for example.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1214393/Police-dismissed-30-pleas-Fiona-Pilkington-killed-disabled-daughter-escape-yobs.html

There was also of course the widely publicised case young man who committed suicide at the Swiss Dignitas clinic after becoming severely disabled.

I think both these cases are different from someone who is terminally ill killing themselves - which is usually a desire to avoid pain and suffering for themselves and their families, and death is inevitable anyway. In this case it certainly does highlight the poor treatment of disabled people by society at large.

It seems the emphasis on suicide prevention is in the wrong place maybe? Although obviously there are cases when someone may kill themselves because they are temporarily depressed, and could easily recover, we need to look -as Douglas says - at why so many people's lives are intolerable in the first place.

(and on a - very serious - side note, I'm horrified by the place a candle in a window campaign - it's a well intentioned idea, but this is a major fire risk, as many people will have flammable window coverings http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/23/earlyshow/living/home/main2387597.shtml).

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