Held on September 10 each year, World Suicide Prevention Day is intended to raise awareness of suicide and how it can be prevented. As part of their campaign to promote World Suicide Prevention Day, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has established a special website with resources and suggested activities to promote the event and the 2011 theme: "Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies".
Based on WHO estimates, approximately one million people a year die by suicide although reliable suicide statistics are often unavailable in many countries. The magnitude of the problem is often masked by the stigma associated with suicide which can lead to the cause of death being concealed by friends or family members. Although risk factors for suicide vary across cultural and demographic groups, typical causes can include unemployment, stigmatisaton, poverty, oppression, and intimidation. Attitudes towards suicide vary widely depending on family dynamics, religious and cultural beliefs, as well as stereotypes relating to the perceived link beween suicide and mental illness. In countries with significant minority populations, national suicide prevention policies often tend to reflect the cultural views of the dominant majority and neglect the special needs and community reaction that suicidal minority members often face.
In discussing potentially "universal" suicide prevention efforts, the IASP recommends:
- Experiences of connectedness are important in the mental health and well-being of all people. Thus, communities that are well integrated and cohesive may be suicide preventive.
- Educating professionals of health and social services as well as communities in general about how to identify people at risk for suicide, encouraging those who need it to seek help, and providing them with needed and adequate help can reduce rates of suicide. These efforts require both cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.
- Methods of suicide vary across cultural contexts, but restricting access to whatever means are commonly employed has been found to be effective in reducing the number of suicides (e.g. safe storage of firearms, pesticides and medicines; restricting access to bridges and high rise buildings commonly used as jumping sites).
- Educating the media on how to report on suicide responsibly, and
- Providing adequate support for people who are bereaved by suicide.
Suggested activites to promote World Suicide Prevention Day include:
- Launching new initiatives, policies and strategies on World Suicide Prevention Day
- Holding conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures and panels
- Writing articles for national, regional and community newspapers and magazines
- Placing information on your website and using the IASP World Suicide Prevention Day banner,
promoting suicide prevention in one’s native tongue (https://www.iasp.info/wspd/light_a_candle_on_wspd_at_8PM.php)
- Organizing memorial services, events, candlelight ceremonies or walks to remember those who
have died by suicide
- Organizing concerts, BBQs, breakfasts, luncheons, contests, fairs in public places
- Producing press releases for new research papers
- Following the IASP on Twitter (www.twitter.com/IASPinfo), tweeting #WSPD or #suicide or
- Creating a video about suicide prevention (www.youtube.com/IASPinfo)
- Lighting a candle, near a window, at 8 PM in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide
prevention awareness, survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones.
Please consult the IASP website for other suggested activities.
Suicide prevention in multicultural societies need to be targeted as a multicultural effort. Preventing suicide requires the active cooperation of health care professionals, teachers, police, journalists, researchers, religious and cultural leaders, as well as concerned relatives and friends. It's everyone's business and everyone needs to contribute.