On Monday, September 10, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) led the 16th annual observance of World Suicide Prevention Day, reminding all of us that, globally, there are more deaths by suicide than by murder and war combined. This year’s theme — Working Together to Prevent Suicide — brings home these points about a very difficult subject:

> Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.

> Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected.

> For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.

> People who take their own lives represent a heterogeneous group, with unique, complex and multifaceted causal influences preceding their final act. Such heterogeneity presents challenges for suicide prevention experts.These challenges can be overcome by adopting a multilevel and cohesive approach to suicide prevention.

> Preventing suicide is often possible and you are a key player in its prevention! You can make a difference — as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbor.


IASP suggests six things everyone can do starting today to prevent suicidal behavior:

  1. Raise awareness about suicide with friends, family, community members, and colleagues.
  2. Educate yourself and others about suicide’s multifactorial causes.
  3. Learn the warning signs for suicide.
  4. Show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community.
  5. Question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behavior and mental health problems.
  6. Share your own experiences.


Tomorrow, we’ll “Take 5 to Save Lives” with the National Council on Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know is in need of emotional support or help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained helpers are available 24/7.


1-800-273-TALK (8255)



(Image: Molly Blair)