Remove the Stigma
It is 2016. We can pick up the phone and talk to someone on the other side of the world without hesitation. We not only can talk to someone anywhere on the planet, we can talk to those orbiting the earth in outer space. And yet, we cannot, do not talk about suicide. There is a stigma about it that prevents us from discussing this tragic action and that means we will never cure it. We must remove this stigmas and stop suicide.
Quoting from the World health Organization: “Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include:
- reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
- reporting by media in a responsible way;
- introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
- early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
- training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behavior;
- follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.
“Suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labor, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide.
The stigma surrounding suicide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the stigma surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means” many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need. The prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it. To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 28 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy. Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.
How does such a stigma affect suicide – what we know about it and how we can stop it? Again I quote from the WHO: “Globally, the availability and quality of data on suicide and suicide attempts is poor. Only 60 Member States have good-quality vital registration data that can be used directly to estimate suicide rates. This problem of poor-quality mortality data is not unique to suicide, but given the sensitivity of suicide – and the illegality of suicidal behavior in some countries – it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.
“Improved surveillance and monitoring of suicide and suicide attempts is required for effective suicide prevention strategies. Cross-national differences in the patterns of suicide, and changes in the rates, characteristics and methods of suicide highlight the need for each country to improve the comprehensiveness, quality and timeliness of their suicide-related data. This includes vital registration of suicide, hospital-based registries of suicide attempts and nationally representative surveys collecting information about self-reported suicide attempts.”
Every life has value and we need to make sure that people understand that means them. All lives matter, not just during a political season or holidays but each and every single day. No one has a stress-free life. You might be the richest person on earth or the poorest but I promise you your life has its share of stresses.
Too many religions consider this subject taboo and help encourage the stigmas regarding and surrounding suicide. Our faith should uplift and support, not help destroy or belittle. There is no deity that does not understand our human condition. We need to show compassion, grace, and love to our neighbors, our family, and yes, even those we do not like or do not like us. In my final installment of this mini-series on suicide, I will discuss just how easy it is to connect, communicate, and care.
Suicide is a killer, a killer that we can stop. I hope you will take five minutes today to fo five simple things and help save a life. Learn the warning signs and never take as a joke when someone says that want to end their life. Call your emergency hotline (In the USA it is 911.) and report such to the proper authorities. Then join the movement to prevent suicide. It is as simple as clicking on the World Suicide Prevention Day Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1054474904622617). Share this message with someone – repost or retweet. Finally, understand that suicide is a big issue and one no one should handle alone. Reach out to professionals for help. These are five easy steps that might just save someone’s life: learn, discuss, join, remove the stigma, support a friend, and reach out. What a great way to have an extraordinary day in helping save someone’s life! Suicide is not a secret and never should have any stigmas attached to it.