The 10th of September is World Suicide Prevention Day. This represents an important opportunity to reflect on past interventions surrounding this cause, to examine present ones and to look towards what we want to see in the future. Prolifically an area both neglected and stigmatised in our country- with no real state-implemented initiatives to curb this phenomenon- suicide needs to be taken seriously because of the damage it does- both to the person tragically committing suicide and the people left behind. While globally there has been a move to prioritise suicide, at home this is not the case. SAFMH has published a press release on the topic which appears below:
Statistics on suicide provide that:
The MHAP is a roadmap towards the rights of mental health care users. The plan prioritises suicide prevention and urges states to make concerted efforts to decrease its prevalence. It illustrates that there is a need for multi-sectoral collaboration to ameliorate the plight of the suicidal people and discusses reducing access to means of self-harm (for instance firearms and toxic medicines), ensuring that the media reports responsibly on issues (i.e. that suicide is not sensationalised), that concrete steps are taken to protect people at high risk of suicide (the categories identified above) as well as that mental disorders are identified early and properly managed. The MHAP sets numerous global targets in this regard, that is:
“Preventing Suicide a Global Imperative” extrapolates on how to develop a national response to suicide (ie: a prevention strategy). It makes the suggestions of use of “surveillance, means restriction, media guidelines, stigma reduction and raising of public awareness as well as training for health workers, educators, police and other gatekeepers.”
In many instances, when a person is feeling suicidal, they feel isolated and as though they cannot seek help. This may be- as is all too often the case- that adequate help is not available. It may also, however, be as a result of actual or perceived stigma. Suicide is a taboo in many societies and people may be concerned that feeling suicidal is a display of weakness. In a move to implement prevention strategies there should thus also be a means through which stigma can be dispelled.
If the MHAP is anything to go by, South Africa is far, far behind in the interventions it should have implemented by this time- to the gross detriment of those who are suicidal. This represents a failure on the part of the state to take positive steps towards preventing suicide. On this basis, the South African Federation for Mental Health calls upon government to put measures in place to prevent and reduce suicide in terms of how it is guided by international obligations. This is one social ill we cannot allow to slip through our fingers. We also call on upon loved ones of those who are suicidal or have completed suicide to educate themselves about the phenomenon and to try and approach it with kindness and empathy instead of judgment. While one day of the year is not sufficient to fully explore the issues or to alter fixed mind-sets within society, it is a start. Let us all work together to prevent suicides throughout the Republic.
The South African Federation for Mental Health is a non-governmental organisation seeking to uphold and protect the rights of people with mental illness, intellectual disability and psychosocial disability. For more information and enquiries contact:
Project Leader: Information and Awareness
011 781 1852
072 2577 938
Advocacy involves addressing the needs and challenges of a certain group of people in society (such as persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities) through influencing policies and legislation and ensuring that their basic human rights are protected and respected, and that they have equal access to services and life opportunities through raising awareness on the plight of the group of people.
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"Then there were times when I would just be so happy! I wouldn’t care who does or says what to me. No one and nothing would spoil my mood. Yes, I’ve always loved people, but when I felt that particular way, I wanted to shower people with gifts, bring joy to everyone… go out of my way to ensure that I share what I felt inside! Sometimes that was the most uncomfortable feeling of them all because I’d have a problem sitting still, almost like a hyperactive kid! Maybe I’d have to be serious about something, but all I’d want to do would be to talk!"
Youth recommendations for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs
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How to Communicate Suicidal Feelings
By Kathryn Goetzke
Unfortunately, I know this subject all too well. When I was 19 years old I my dad died by suicide, and I have had an almost fatal attempt myself in my early 20s, along with very regular ideation of wanting to end my life. One thing I have learned through the years, is that if you are suicidal, it is incredibly important to reach out for help in a way that is supportive for all involved.
The South African Federation for Mental Health (www.safmh.org) and the Movement for Global Mental Health (www.globalmentalhealth.org), in conjunction with the World Health Organization's Civil Society Working Group on NCDs, is requesting your support to raise awareness about the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs are complex, and we require a unified approach, informed by our collective concern that NCDs will adversely impact everyone. We support an inclusive concept about NCDs. No one should be left behind! We support a life course approach, integrated into all aspects of health and beyond and consider all chronic illnesses within the broad category of NCDs. All are at risk for mental, neurological and substance use disorders; all people will benefit from a strong response to these health issues that have become a common experience around the world.
Download the FULL #EnoughNCDs #BeatNCDs campaign document: http://www.globalmentalhealth.org/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/SAFMH%20MGMH%20letter%20on%20NCDs.pdf