World Suicide Prevention Day
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), on 10 September, is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). The purpose of the Day is to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented. The World Health Organisation is a co-sponsor of World Suicide Prevention Day.
In Kenya, cases on suicide have been on the rise, especially with University students. In July 2015, a report by Kenyatta National Hospital showed over 100 cases of attempted suicide among the youth aged between 18 and 25 (mostly campus students) within a span of two months. These are very alarming numbers and sadly, there are just a few of the ‘officially’ reported cases.
Most students consider the problems they face that might lead them to having suicidal thoughts to be unique to their generation, therefore, they avoid seeking parental help or help from lecturers. They fear they may be scolded or not understood.
Some schools are therefore coming up with ways in which the students needing help can be able to get it, for example, through Guidance and Counselling where they can explain how they feel and have proper help offered accordingly.
Some of the issues leading to suicide are;
Loss or fear of loss: such situations can include; ending a romantic relationship, financial problems, academic failure, being arrested or imprisoned.
A cry of help: sometimes people don’t know how to get help, they use the suicidal attempts as a way of crying out and demonstrating how much the pain is hurting. Sadly, these cries sometimes prove to be fatal if the person misjudges the lethality of the chosen suicide method.
Depression and mental illness: with depression, a person feels great pain but isn’t able to see any way to relieve that pain other than ending his/her life. A mental illness, like schizophrenia or an illness that produces psychosis, can lead to a person hearing voices which command her/him to take their own life. Alternating periods of high and low with bipolar disorder can increase a person’s risk for committing suicide.
Matic Stress– traumatic experience creates a greater risk for suicide, even many years after the trauma.
Substance abuse: use of drugs and alcohol can also influence a person who is feeling suicidal, making them more impulsive and likely to act upon their urges than they would while sober.
Often people who contemplate suicide display warning signs; excessive sadness or moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal or changes in personality or appearance. Self-harming behaviour, expressions of or preparations for suicide are obvious red flags that demand immediate intervention.
It’s not only on World Suicide Prevention Day that this topic should be brought up, in as much as it is a sensitive topic, it ought to be brought up so that if one needs help they know how to acquire it and get better.
If you suspect that someone is suicidal, or if they confide in you, here are a few things that you can do;
Listen nonjudgmentally: encourage someone to talk about what they are thinking and how they are feeling, when you listen and genuinely care, you can have a calming positive impact on them. You might not understand what they’re going through but when you accept and stay patient and respectful, you can make a world of difference.
Give assurance and information: people having suicidal thoughts may at times lack hope, therefore, reassurance is very crucial. You can offer some positive advice in a sensitive way.
Encourage appropriate professional help: if a concern arises for the person’s immediate safety, call suicide-prevention hotlines. If you are concerned but it’s not an urgent situation, make sure the person has a safety contact available at all times. Psychological or medical help could also be encouraged depending on the situation.
Encourage self-help and other support strategies: ask them to think about what has helped them in the past; could be a friend, spiritual leader, club or a family member. After you know who has been there for them, help them to connect once again and tap into the person’s support system as much as possible during this time.