Creating Hope through Action to Prevent Suicide

World Suicide Prevention Day is an important day in the global mental health calendar. It is observed every year on the 10th of September ever since the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) established it in 2003 alongside the World Health Organization (WHO). It was established as the day to draw attention to this important public health issue globally. It is also the day when different stakeholders come together to raise awareness and remember people who have lost their lives to suicide.

According to the WHO, an estimated 703,000 individuals die by suicide each year. There is a considerable number of people attempting suicide behind every death by suicide. This creates far-reaching consequences on suicide survivors, their families, communities, and nations, thereby affecting millions of people globally. Urgent, evidence-based action is required to support the holistic mental health and well-being of people and to prevent suicide. Suicide prevention components must be integrated into mental health laws, policies, and multisectoral campaigns.

In the last 19 years, IASP has marked World Suicide Prevention Day with different messages such as understanding, global thinking, multiculturalism, and the life cycle approach. Its current theme is “Creating Hope through Action” which will remain the same from 2021 to 2023. During these three years, IASP aims to ignite, sustain, and grow the message that suicides are preventable through our actions, no matter how big or small. We can act by reaching in to people who might be in distress, encouraging understanding around the topic, and sharing our own experiences in a safe and compassionate way. Through this day, we can also empower and provide individuals with the confidence they need to engage with people who are struggling. It can be helpful to set aside some time and space to listen to someone discussing their feelings of emotional distress or suicidal thoughts.

As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, IASP observes the annual ‘Light a candle’ campaign which is a simple action that encourages understanding and feeling that crosses cultures and languages. Around the world, people light a candle at 8 o'clock on September 10 to show their support for suicide prevention efforts, to remember a lost loved one, and for those who have survived suicide. Other campaigns include ‘Cycle Around the Globe’ for suicide prevention. This campaign brings the global community together to engage with each other and spread awareness of suicide prevention. Any distance can be covered by cycling on any road, track, or gym from September 10 through October 10, 2022, to support joint efforts in suicide prevention.

The messaging around World Suicide Prevention Day continues until the 10th of October when World Mental Health Day is celebrated worldwide. However, we can and need to sustain the momentum beyond this to last throughout the year. We can play our part to raise awareness, reduce stigma, encourage help-seeking, and advocate for suicide prevention. It is also crucial for states and policymakers to integrate suicide prevention within universal health coverage efforts, especially if we are to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) target of reducing deaths by suicide by one-third by 2030. Based on the evidence, suicide prevention must be multisectoral and integrate a variety of interventions and techniques to be successful. We need to work together using a collaborative approach in order to achieve this goal.

To join the conversation and help spread awareness of suicide prevention, official hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, #WSPD, #BeTheLight, or #WSPD2022 can be used in social media messaging.

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