World Mental Health Day is October 10 and this year the theme is suicide prevention.
World Mental Health Day may seem more like a public awareness holiday, but health care professionals play a large role in how we (the public) discuss mental and behavioral health issues. By raising awareness and reducing stigma, we make it easier for individuals to receive support and accept treatment.
This goes for all mental health issues, especially suicide, which is often a difficult subject to talk about.
World Mental Health Day 2019: Working Together to Prevent Suicide
This year, World Mental Health Day (October 10) is focused on suicide prevention. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States (second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34) and is considered a global public health issue.
By bringing attention to suicide and suicide prevention, the World Federation for Mental Health (founder of World Mental Health Day) aims to dispel mistaken and prejudiced ideas about suicide and help our communities learn about risk factors and prevention tactics.
3 Ways to Bring Awareness to Suicide Prevention
Everyone can bring awareness to suicide prevention. No matter your role (doctor, nurse, clinician, social worker, HR manager, etc.), your efforts make a difference in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. Here’s how you can get involved on October 10:
1. Take “40 Seconds of Action”
According to the World Health Organization, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Below are ways you can turn 40 seconds into hope and awareness:
- If you’re having suicidal thoughts, take 40 seconds to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling
- If you’re taking a break at work, take 40 seconds to promote a mental health story on social media using the hashtag #40seconds
- If you’re a manager or leader of a team, take 40 seconds to let your staff and employees know about available mental health resources, either in your workplace or community
- If you know someone who has lost a family member or friend to suicide, take 40 seconds to ask how they’re doing
- If you’re a clinician or health care professional, take 40 seconds to review the risk and protective factors associated with suicide
Learn more about “40 seconds of action” and what you can do here.
2. Know the Suicide Risk and Protective Factors
Foundational knowledge on suicide prevention is important for all your staff. One of the most important things to know are the risk and protective factors for suicide.
Risk Factors for Suicide
- Family history of suicide
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- History of mental disorders, alcohol, or substance abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Isolation, feeling cut off from other people
Protective Factors for Suicide
- Easy access to various clinical interventions and support
- Family and community support
- Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance use disorders
- Having nonviolent problem-solving skills
Knowing suicide and protective risk factors helps your entire healthcare organization be more prepared in identifying, assessing, and managing risk effectively. You can read the full list of risk and protective factors here.
3. Implement Suicide Prevention Training
In addition to knowing the risk and protective factors for suicide, suicide prevention training should also be part of your staff’s onboarding and ongoing professional development. As new research develops, treatment models and assessments change, making continual training essential.
If you’re a manager or leader in a healthcare organization, check your existing training plans to see what is included related to suicide prevention.
If you’re a health care practitioner, there are a variety of online resources to help you learn more about suicide prevention. A few are: Mental Health First Aid, Zero Suicide, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Work Together to Prevent Suicide
Suicide prevention doesn’t end on October 10—it’s only the beginning. Working together, we can make it easier for people to talk openly about mental health and suicide and accept support and treatment.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
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