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World Suicide Prevention Day – Sept. 10th – Part 34 Special Edition

September 10, 2010

Today I’m doing something a bit different, deviating from my normal story telling because I feel so passionate about World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).

Today would have been my 33rd wedding anniversary, but I lost my husband, Rob to suicide in Dec. 2000. So this day holds extra special meaning for me not only because it was my anniversary, but because it reminds me of who I lost and how many are impacted by this tragedy of suicide.

There is so much stigma surrounding suicide and sometimes the stigma is worse than the suicide. I know that’s a pretty strong statement, but for many – it is the case. People are uncomfortable even with the word “suicide”, you can see them almost cringe when you say it. I noticed this immediately when I lost my husband Rob and would tell someone when asked how he’d passed. I quickly learned to soften the words and just tell them “unfortunately he took his own life” and even that left many reeling.

The stigma also surrounds mental health illness too and that HAS to be stopped! Those who are suffering from the various types of mental health illnesses, depression being one of them and almost always associated with suicide, are afraid to reach out for the very help they need. They are fearful of being judged, of being labelled, embarrassment is often felt and yet if they had cancer or any other disease – and believe me – mental health illness is a disease!, they wouldn’t experience that at all. They’d receive understanding, compassion, empathy and support.

Stigma also impacts survivors who have lost someone to suicide. At a time in their lives when their world has been shattered, many have no clue what to say or do. Survivors are not looking for you to “fix” anything, instead they need support, compassion and a lot of love to get through this life altering experience. Many try to comfort but use inappropriate words which add to the hurt. If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, please just be there for them. Let them know you’re sorry for their loss, that is all that’s needed. Let them talk about it openly and just listen, hug them, don’t tell them you know how they feel unless you yourself have experienced suicide – just be a safe place for them to fall.

I belong to a remarkable Facebook fanpage called International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and they are in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). This fanpage does tremendous work to educate about suicide, things to look out for and be aware of so you may recognize if someone is in need. They give many links to information, including their HELP tab that links to a page giving numbers or sites in your area if you are contemplating suicide or know someone who is. This is a WORLDWIDE group and that I’ve not found anywhere else.

The support and outpouring on their fanpage is just incredible. They welcome each new fan by name, they post a candle for anyone who shares their grief at losing someone to suicide, fans support them in ways I’ve not seen before. The compassion and caring is truly heartfelt and warming. I will post a link to their site at the end of this post, please take a moment to check it out, it may very well save someone’s life.

I feel so strongly that my experience happened so that I could learn from it. What I’ve learned is profound and it’s put me on my path/calling to share my story in hopes it will help others to come forward. Suicide is NOT a dirty word, and I am doing my best to make it be so. I know my purpose is to help others heal from this devastation, to accept and forgive, both themselves and those who took their lives, to help them to heal and go on to help others and pay it forward.

I want to help reduce the stigma, raise awareness and prevent suicide thereby saving lives. Please help me do this by supporting World Suicide Prevention Day and light a candle by a window tonight at 8pm in memory of all those lost to suicide and for all those left behind grieving something they can barely comprehend.

Suicide claims 1 million lives a year, that’s 1 every 40 seconds according to WHO statistics. To put that into perspective, that’s like the number killed in 9/11 happening every single day. Very shocking statistics. For every 1 completed suicide, there are 20 more not completed and that translates to 20 more million every year attempting to take their own lives. Factor in that on average 4-6 family/friend members are impacted for each successful suicide and you quickly realize just how many are impacted and devasted by this tragedy.

Suicide is everyone’s concern, it’s on the rise in our youth and our elderly. The present economic climate is adding to the stress and depression and suicide rates are on the increase because of that too. The world is a very chaotic place right now, much intolerance, much hatred and much fear – this too needs healing to take place. WE can all make a difference, one person truly can make a difference, we can reduce the stigma, increase awareness and save lives.

My heart goes out to all those lost and all those grieving, we need to heal and move on so we may help others do the same.

Here is the IASP World Suicide Prevention Activities link showing what’s being held to support the day:

Here is the link the the IASP’s website:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dr. Helal permalink
    September 12, 2010 10:13 pm

    “My heart goes out to all those lost and all those grieving, we need to heal and move on so we may help others do the same.”
    …………. Nice write up. Inspiring and teach me a lots.

  2. September 16, 2010 9:37 pm

    Excellent post, I would hazard a guess that over and above the 20 attempted suicides to each tragic, actual suicide there are many, many more “contemplated-but-not-attempted” cases. How many of these may have been averted by simple things like, a kind word from someone, a chance sighting of pretty flowers, a joyful greeting from a dog, an unexpected compliment.

    My point is, we never know what influence our actions can have on other people, we might unwittingly push someone towards the edge or bring them back from it.

    You are absolutely right, one person can make a difference.

    • September 16, 2010 11:04 pm

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your comment. You are correct that many contemplated-but-not-attempted cases add to the numbers, however, not many statistics exist for these. There is also such great stigma that many actual successful suicides are not reported, they are reported as some other cause of death. Often times suicides occurring within the military or police forces are reported accidental, sometimes under the guise of protecting morale – this just perpetuates the stigma and shame. It is a crime to me that any such stigma exists in this day and age when so much can be openly discussed or debated, yet suicide remains taboo.

      A kind word from someone, even if they are not personally known can make all the difference in the world. Just knowing someone cares can be enough. Knowing that they’re not being judged, that they’re not made to feel different because of either contemplating, attempting or admitting they’ve attempted is crucial – they need a safe place to fall and be able to have open dialogue about it without guarding what they express. They need to know they are not alone, that many others have been where they are/were and this too helps them feel less isolated. We can all learn to be compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental and most importantly, be able to discuss the topic of suicide to raise awareness and understanding.

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