The Truth About Suicide Prevention
By: Gabby Frost
Today is a very important day. It is a day where a voice can be created for the millions of people who took their own lives – World Suicide Prevention Day.
Every year, over 800,000 people commit suicide. That’s approximately one person every 40 seconds. This is obviously a huge issue that the whole word is facing. But an even bigger issue is that these numbers are slowly increasing.
There are millions of people out there living with a mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. A majority of these people are too afraid to seek professional help due to the stigma surrounding mental health. This stigma is incredibly detrimental to anyone facing mental health problems, as it has led to improper education and ignorance.
People don’t realize that mental health problems can affect anyone. It doesn’t matter what someone’s age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or living situation is. Mental illnesses do not discriminate at all, which can be a scary thing.
Schools all around the world need to be educating students on mental health. There is no excuse as to why it isn’t an appropriate subject to begin talking about once students enter a certain grade and are able to grasp the concept of it.
The school district that I’m a part of began teaching us about puberty when we were in 5th grade. They expected us all to understand what physical changes would be happening to our bodies when we were just 10 or 11-years-old. If schools can educate pre-teens on the physical changes that will affect their bodies, why can’t they teach them about the mental changes that could possibly happen in their future too?
Understanding the basic concept of mental illnesses isn’t a difficult concept. Mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses, the only difference being that the brain is affected and not a visible body part. Kids understand the concept of a common cold at a young age, so why can’t we also get them to understand that some people have prolonged periods of sadness and loss of interest? Children obviously don’t need to be experts on mental illnesses; all they need to be is empathetic and accepting of people’s differences. Teaching kids to not belittle other people’s feelings is not a hard thing to do.
The biggest hurdle that the world needs to overcome in order to decrease the stigma of mental illness is educating older generations who grew up thinking people with mental illnesses are crazy. We obviously can’t change how every single person feels, as some have it so internalized in their minds. The best thing we can do is constantly raise awareness and educate the world on the truth about mental health.
Education is the #1 solution to fighting this universal stigma. The more people we inform about mental health, the more people there are that will be here for those with mental health problems. We can’t get rid of the stigma altogether, but we can at least decrease it drastically enough for it not to be a huge issue the world is facing anymore. If we work hard enough, the stigma of mental health can be a thing of the past that we tell future generations about.
In order to reach this goal we need to raise awareness every single day, not just today. Every day for me is Suicide Prevention Day. Every single day I try to prevent suicide from happening and let people know I am here for them. If we want to make a difference, we have to stick to it and keep going every day. We can’t just come together on one day every year; it won’t make enough of a difference.
Please remember to be vocal about mental health as much as you can. If someone makes an insensitive joke about suicide, call them out. If someone tells you that they have depression, be someone that will be there for them.
You may be just one person but if we put all of the people a part of this movement together, it will make a difference.
If you are feeling suicidal, please check out the hotlines page on this site. It has a suicide hotline listed for a bunch of different countries.