This past Sunday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, a day endorsed by the World Health Organization. This week in the United States, groups are commemorating National Suicide Prevention Week. Every year around the world, approximately 800,000 people die by suicide and nearly 25 times that many attempt suicide. Behind those numbers are stories of struggle, torment, and darkness. It’s difficult for some of us to fathom the idea of taking our own life, but for others it seems like the only option.
Mental health and removing the stigma associated with mental illnesses are among the most important social issues to me. How can we remove the stigma? We talk more about mental health. It can be intimidating to open up about your own experiences, but it also provides the opportunity to hear from others who might be feeling, or have felt, similarly. Mental illnesses can feel so isolating, but when roughly 1 in 4 Americans experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime, it shouldn’t be isolating at all!
With regard to suicide prevention, the organization To Write Love On Her Arms is issuing action items every day this week for you to participate in and learn more about suicide prevention. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is also a useful resource, providing insight and encouragement.
I urge you to learn about suicide prevention this week and engage in at least one conversation about mental health with someone you know. Together we can end the stigma and hopefully save lives.