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Every year on the 10th of September, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has collaborated into establishing World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) since 2003. Symbolised by a yellow ribbon, the day is celebrated to raise awareness on suicide prevention, removing the negative stigmasation correlated to it as well as promoting informed action to tackle this concerning, yet ever-rising public health issue.
World Suicide Prevention Day: Creating Hope Through Actions
The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day since 2021 is Creating Hope Through Actions and will persists til 2023. The aim of the theme proposed is to instil hope and restore faith among those who are struggling, either silently or remarkably by serving as a reminder that there’s light at the end of every tunnel. It suggests that the effort, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are in need of it.
With this theme in mind, the government, institutional and professional bodies will come together to hold media and mass awareness programme either via campaigns, seminars or Continuing Medical Education (CME) to reduce the suicides rates as much as we can.
Image Source: International Association for Suicide Prevention
The term suicide refers to an individual planning or acting upon self-destructive thoughts and feelings due to a persistent experience of overwhelming stress.
Suicides are never driven by a single reason. In fact, they are often triggered by a compilation of adversity and unfortunate events (financial struggles, family problems, deliberating chronic health issues etc) repeatedly that leads one to believe that the only way out is to end their lives. On top of that, unaddressed or untreated mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, body dysmorphia disorder etc along with the lack of social support are also one of the main reasons people resort to suicide.
According to mental health experts, signs that most suicidal people share in common are:
Loss in appetite
Change in behaviour
Change in sleeping habits (Insomnia/sleeping more than usual)
Losing interest in things that used to interest them
Always looking sad, depressed hopeless
Social isolation (withdrawal) from any interaction with family and friends
Increased alcohol and/or substance consumption
While you may worry that prompting your friend who portray some of these signs may suggest the idea to them if they’re not actually suicidal, evidence suggests asking or checking in with a close one may bring more positive impact than negative ones. This is because when you bring up the topic yourself, you are conveying your concern for them and this may aid cut through the shame that the person may have about sharing his or her suicidal feelings. It gives them reassurance and reassures them that you’re willing to listen and be there for them rather than increasing the likelihood of such an event.
As members of the society, we can all contribute hand in hand to helping those who are in a suicidal crisis or those who have lost a loved one to suicide by spreading hope and offering mental support or pair of listening ears. Simple gestures like checking in on a friend who has been silent for a week goes a thousand miles.
You can initiate the conversation in a gentle and non-judgemental tone. Throughout the conversation, it is also important to be mindful of your words and converse in a reassuring manner as you do not wish to trigger any unintentional responses. Some notes to be cautious of:
Acknowledge and validate their feelings.
Avoid sounding judgmental or offensive by saying things that may come off as degrading or insulting (ie: “I can’t believe that’s upsetting you this much!”).
Be an active listener. However, not everyone is good at comforting others. If you feel the information shared is too overwhelming, seek support from professionals or a family member that they can trust.
Offer mental support and encouragement.
Advise them that help is accessible and they can feel better with professional help.
Offer to be there for them for their first appointment or medical check up.
If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm:
Help them to get immediate medical attention by calling 911 immediately. When a dire situation arises, don’t be afraid of involving their family or friends.
Stay with the person until help arrives.
Remain calm and listen to everything they have to say. Don’t argue, threaten or yell.
Restrict their access to dangerous objects (ie: knives, bleach, ropes etc) or places (ie: standing at the edge of high rise buildings/cliffs) that may cause harm.
For psychosocial support assistance services, contact the KKM-Mercy Malaysia Psychosocial Support Helpline (03-2935 9935), The Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929) or Talian Kasih (15999). Visit Agenda Nasional Malaysia Sihat, www.mindasihatkkm.com, www.reachout.my and Health Ministry official portal for more information.
Image source: The Star - Act Together to Prevent Suicide
Alternatively, Befrienders Kuala Lumpur can be reached at 03-76272929 any time of the day. Contact details of other Befriender centres can be found here:
Image source: https://www.befrienders.org.my/centre-in-malaysia
Friendly reminder that it is okay to ask for help, no matter how serious the issues may be. When we realise your problems are too overwhelming or in the event you feel lost and stuck, voicing them out to others will give you a huge sense of relief. You will feel that heavy weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Most importantly, always remember your life is precious and it should never be an exchange for whatever you’re going through. With all the resources made available, we hope you’ll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that there’s always people who care dearly for you.
Happy World Suicide Prevention Day!
Written by Janelle Leong, Bpharm(Hons);
Medically reviewed by Nur Ariffin, MBBS UniSZA
World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 - WHO. Available at: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-suicide-prevention-day/2022 Accessed on 8th September 2022
World Suicide Prevention Day 2022: ‘Creating Hope Through Actions’ - ABP Live. Available at: https://news.abplive.com/lifestyle/world-suicide-prevention-day-2022-history-significance-and-all-you-need-to-know-1552324 Accessed on 8th September 2022
Act Together to Prevent Suicide - The Star. Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/09/10/prevent-suicide-together-creating-hope-through-action Accessed on 8th September 2022
How can I judge the level of suicide risk- Mental Health Net. Available at: https://www.mentalhelp.net/suicide/judging-risk/ Accessed on 8th September 2022
What You Should Know About Suicide - Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/suicide-and-suicidal-behavior Accessed on 8th September 2022
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