This week is World Suicide Prevention Week. The theme for this year is Suicide Prevention: One World Connected. Being connected to others is important in so many aspects of life. It's especially important when it comes to suicide prevention, as many studies have shown that social isolation increases suicide risk. Having strong human bonds can help protect against it. As I reflect back on my journey through grief and healing the last 4+ years, I realize that my connections with others helped lift me out of my anger and despair. The connections I've made with so many of you through the blogosphere helped me on my journey and continue to be very important and treasured relationships to me.
Much of what I've written on here has been about my personal experience as a survivor of suicide loss. I haven't used this as a platform for talking about suicide prevention education and awareness, which is a little odd since in the 'real' world that's a topic I'm very vocal about. One thing I've learned since I've started speaking out about suicide is that I never know who is listening--and my voice, my experiences--connect with more people than I realize.
Last week the World Health Organization released the World Suicide Report. The statistics in it didn't surprise me, but are alarming nonetheless. Worldwide, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. That's approximately one suicide death every 40 seconds. The number of deaths due to suicide each year is greater than the deaths caused by homicide and war combined. Suicide is a major public health problem. Recognizing this, the World Health Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. All 194 member states who adopted the plan committed to reducing their suicide rates by 10% by the year 2020. Here in the U.S., the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a goal of reducing suicide in the U.S. by 20% by the year 2025. I'm committed to doing my part to achieve these goals. I realize many others also share this desire but aren't sure where to start or how to help. One of the most important things we can all do to help prevent suicide is to stay connected to others. Be aware of what's going on in the lives of your friends and family. If you think they may be struggling with depression or anxiety, talk to them. Below are some tips for how to start the conversation. I hope you'll read and share them. This week and beyond I challenge you to learn more about suicide and how to prevent it, start a conversation, and join the fight to end suicide.