World Suicide Prevention Day 2020: Significance of suicide prevention during a global pandemic
World Suicide Prevention Day is observed annually on September 10 to raise awareness regarding the subject of suicide and the actions that can be taken to prevent these tragedies on a global scale. In 2003, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) collaborated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to host the first ever World Suicide Prevention Day. Since then many countries around the world have joined them in this venture, in 2011, approximately 40 countries held awareness events to mark this occasion.
According to the suicide data collection done by the WHO, close to 800,00 people die each year, due to suicide, boiling down to 1 death every 40 seconds and that is not taking into account the 20 million suicide attempts. However, reducing these tragedies into statistics does not mean that there are set causes or stereotypes that can be applied to it.
There are several convergences that finally lead to suicide. Often it is a combination of genetic, psychological, social, cultural and other risk factors additionally combined with the experience of loss and trauma, that can wreak havoc in people’s lives. Not just the ones that take their own lives but of those around them as well. “For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected.”
Regardless of the immediate cause or trigger that leads to suicide, ignoring all the factors that play a role would be a gross misrepresentation of the suffering of so many people. Each of these heterogenous individuals present a wide array of multifaceted causal influences that precede the final act. And it is often this heterogeneity that presents the biggest challenge in the prevention of suicide.
The observance of World Suicide Prevention Day seeks to highlight that through the adoption of a multilevel and cohesive approach, each individual can work towards suicide prevention. Even the smallest members of society can play a massive role, through initiating conversation, educating oneself and others about the causes and warning signs of suicide. Perhaps most importantly, even the simplest gestures of compassion can help save a life.
The ongoing pandemic has created a world environment that is harsh and seriously detrimental for mental health, especially with the downturn of the economy, the isolation that has come with months of social distancing and the sheer stress of navigating through life while people across the globe are suffering through a dangerous virus. These circumstances have pandemonium all around the globe, making this the most imperative time to focus on suicide prevention.