It deeply saddens me to say this, but lately I have noticed quite the increase in suicides or suicide attempts, in both communities that I’m involved with locally and globally, as well as those that I’m not involved with. This is not a personal issue, this is not a local issue, this is not a national issue, this is a global issue that could possibly affect us all. Not only does the suicide of an individual affect that individual, but it also affects those around them. Family, friends, and communities can be torn apart by suicide, and this is why it’s important to recognise suicide as the severe issue that it is. You may not be directly affected by suicide or mental illness, but that does not mean that it may not affect you one day, directly or indirectly.
Before I continue, I would like to provide evidence to support my statement. The following are the international suicide statistics:
- Over one million people die by suicide every year
- 8% of worldwide deaths are due to suicide
- The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000
- One person dies due to suicide every 40 seconds on average
- Global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the last 45 years
- Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than successful suicides
- Mental health disorders are associated with 90% of all cases of suicide
- Suicide rates amongst young people have increased to such an extent that they are now the age group at the highest risk of suicide in a third of all countries
- Suicide rates amongst young people are increasing at the greatest rate
These statistics provide the insight to see that this really is a big problem, globally.
As the title of this article suggests, this is a reflection of society. This is a reflection of how people with mental illness are treated by society, how people with mental illness do not receive the care and support they need, how people with mental illness are killing themselves because they are afraid to get help because society portrays the view that mental illness is a blemish on society. The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be eradicated, we need to educate people on mental health; it could affect anyone at any time, including ourselves or those around us, and we should all be in the position to say that we are at least somewhat prepared for it; as you can never be truly prepared or know what to expect with any form of mental illness, but having at least some knowledge of what to do if you are ever put in that situation is invaluable.
There are many issues within society that can lead to an individual to commit suicide, however, as these are issues, they can and should be resolved. One of the most common causes of suicides is bullying. The majority of schools will state that they enforce a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, as I only left school a few years ago, and I am still in contact with people who are currently in school, I can say that this is not true; I can say this as the fact that bullying still exists shows that they are clearly not doing enough to stop this extremely harmful behaviour. Not only does bullying exist within schools, it also exists online, outside of school, and even in the work place. Yes, adults can be bullied too. Bullying should no longer be swept under the carpet, it should not be tolerated in the slightest. This leads me on to how too many members of society are misinformed and stigmatized towards mental health. This stigma prevents those who need help from receiving it due to fear of being penalized, as well as leaving many people unaware that they are suffering from a mental illness because they do not seem to fit society’s stereotype of ‘crazy’. There are many people who refuse to believe that mental illness does indeed exist, this leads to parents or family members preventing their child or loved ones from receiving the necessary help and support as “it’s all just in your head, pull yourself together”. Many of these issues could be resolved by simply including mental health in the educational system. This way we could eradicate the stigma and misinformation that surrounds mental illness and move forward together as the human race.
This is not the type of behaviour society should encourage, we should embrace mental health with open arms and focus on what’s important such as recovery. The fact that the way of today’s society hinders that process, says it all.
Due to the way of the modern world, it is important to recognise the possible signs that an individual may portray when they are feeling suicidal or experiencing suicidal ideation. By recognising these signs, you have the power to prevent such things from occurring. However, it should be noted that not all people who are suicidal or those who have either attempted or committed suicide, will show these signs. If you do notice any of the following signs, it is crucial to approach the situation with love, care and understanding.
- Talking or writing about death or suicide
- Withdrawing and isolating themselves from friends or family
- Appearing sad or depressed the majority of the time
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Exhibiting a change in personality
- Acting recklessly or impulsively
- Changes in both sleeping and eating habits
- A loss of interest in most activities and hobbies
- Feeling excessive guilt or shame
- Writing a will
You should always take suicidal comments very seriously, a person who is suicidal needs immediate professional help. If the person is at high risk of committing suicide or harming themselves, call emergency services immediately. Whilst you wait for them to arrive, remain calm and keep conversation flowing. Let the person know that you are deeply concerned for their wellbeing, and show them that they have your support. Under no circumstances should a suicidal person be left on their own, only when they are receiving professional help you can consider leaving them.
It is perfectly okay, to not be okay. It’s perfectly okay to stand up and say you need help. Mental illness is just that, an illness. Every time I hear of an attempted or a successful suicide, it completely breaks my heart. We cannot continue to go on this way as a society, we cannot continue to go on this way as human beings. Suicide is never the answer, there is always help available, and we need to let these vulnerable people know that they can get the help they need and it will get better. You are not your mental illness, you have just as much of a right to be here is anyone else. We only get one shot at life, and for some that ends too soon.
We can change this, YOU can help change this. Let’s educate others about mental health, let’s stand up and tell our stories. There is no longer room for the stigma or misinformation that surrounds mental health in this world. Be the change you wish to see; and know that I will never stop fighting for you.