Every 45 seconds someone takes their life; an estimated 703,000 people a year around the world. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected, resulting in 108 million people, annually, who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviours. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.
Each suicidal death is a public health concern with a profound impact on those around them. By raising awareness, reducing the stigma around suicide, and encouraging well-informed action, we can reduce instances of suicide around the world.
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO). The 10th of September each year focuses attention on the issue, reduces stigma and raises awareness among organizations, government, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented.
“Creating hope through action” is the triennial theme for the World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 – 2023. This theme is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us.
By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them. It also suggests that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Lastly, it highlights the importance of setting suicide prevention as a priority public health agenda by countries, particularly where access to mental health services and availability of evidence-based interventions are already low. Building on this theme and spreading this message over the three years, a world can be envisioned where suicides are not so prevalent.
We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide whether as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a person with lived experience. We can all encourage understanding about the issue, reach in to people who are struggling, and share our experiences. We can all create hope through action and be the light.