Published October 10, 2019 at 9:02
The focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention.
The World Health Organisation reports that every year close to 800,000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout life and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally.
Suicide prevention: WAIT
Prevention is something that we can all individually help with. A short conversation with another person can sometimes be enough to make the difference between life and death for them.
The advice ‘WAIT’ is one good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal. It stands for:
Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour
e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide
Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?” Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation
It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time
Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional