Sunday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day. It shouldn’t be that we need a day to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic, but like with mental health the stigma and negative opinions associated with suicide are taking time to dispel. It is only as a society, encouraging and educating people will we be able to move forward and prevent potential suicide victims reaching the stage where they feel death is the only solution.
Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life
This year’s WSPD theme was ‘take a minute, change a life’. Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. How many of these could be avoided if we were to just take a minute and have a conversation with each other. We can blame technology and social media for many things;
- social media is damaging to people’s mental health
- mobile phones and social are ruining the way we communicate
- we are becoming less sociable
But we can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s time to turn these negatives and use social media and technology to our advantage. Campaigns like Time to Change’s ‘Be in your corner’ mental health campaign, if your friend’s acting differently, step in. It isn’t always easy to make that first step, there is always the worry that you may say or do something wrong but more often than not all the person going through a rough patch wants is someone to listen. You don’t always have to have the answers or know the solution but showing that non judgemental support can make all the difference. If you think someone you know is struggling then go ahead and start your conversation.
Mental health problems can affect anyone at anytime, regardless of age, gender ethnic background. It is so important that as a society we all come together to raise awareness and educate people. Being Asian and of a Muslim background it was and in some cases difficult for people from the Asian community to acknowledge the existence of mental illness. In many religions suicide is a sin which as further confusion and stress to those who are already going through a difficult period. It’s not about vilifying religion and those who have a strong faith but more about educating people and having religion and treatments complimenting each other. Having a faith has helped those with a mental health illness, giving them inner strength and peace.
With the new semester starting there is more focus on the mental health and wellbeing of university students who for many it is the first time away from home, pressures of study, exams and student loans can be a stressful time. A study carried out by IPPR showed that the number of students reporting and seeking help for a mental health concern had risen to 15,395 in a decade and 134 students killed themselves in 2015 (source The Guardian)
Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems
Men’s mental health
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men below the age of 50, men were more likely to take their own life than die from road deaths, coronary heart disease, accidental poisoning or diseases of the liver.
There has been a lot of work being done to encourage men to talk about their physical and mental health. There are a lot of stereotypes I that negatively impact society and how people function. Pigeon holing them only leads to people feeling trapped thinking they will be ostracised, ridiculed and not taken seriously, an attitude Movember is trying to change. Admitting there is something wrong and talking about it is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t make you less of a man. if anything it takes a lot of strength to open up.
Post natal depression
Spoken about students and men’s health we can’t ignore women, in particular post natal depression. It is important to understand that this is not an illness that women will recover from in a few weeks, it can take years and can be a long road.
Some people, myself included have confused the baby blues with post natal depression. Though the two have similar symptoms the recovery is different.
Up to 80 per cent of women report “the blues”, usually within the first week after birth. It often coincides with an increase in breast milk supply. Women may feel teary, sad, anxious or struggle to concentrate.
“The blues” are usually self-limiting and no treatment other than reassurance and support is required.
Postnatal depression (PND) affects approximately 15 per cent of women in the months following the birth of a baby, so is a lot more common than some might imagine. It is more severe and prolonged than “the blues”, and can substantially affect the relationship between the mother and baby during this critical period. Women who suffer from PND frequently report feeling sad, tearful, anxious or guilty, often without an obvious “trigger” that they can identify.
Days like world suicide prevention day is a time to raise awareness and educate people that we can all fall down, some of us will need a little bit of extra help to get back up again. You could be that person that makes a difference in someone’s life.