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Thursday, September 11, 2014

World Suicide Prevention Day - Today, Tomorrow, Any Day

Yesterday - the 10th September - was World Suicide Prevention Day, as it is every year.
But two things stand out in all the mad excitement of national and international organisations spruiking their programs, and joining together in phenomenal media coverage.
The first is that there is universal discussion of the size of the problem, with up to date comparisons nation by nation. All very interesting, and totally useless to someone hiding away with their depression and plans for suicide.
The second is that there is very little about exactly how you go about stopping yourself from suiciding, or stopping someone else from suicide. Everyone screams at us that we should reach out, we should start a conversation, we should help those who need help to actually get the help. But no-one really helps us with what you say after you have said "Hello" "Are you OK?" No-one helps us to know exactly how you persuade someone they are worthy of help.
Handing someone a pamphlet is equally useless. So few people read these days. So many people with severe depression don't feel like reading, talking, or reaching out, or seeking help. They just sit in their puddle of misery, not thinking anything much but how to stop the pain. Even if you get the message across to them that they should seek help, they may still not do it. They may well believe that no-one can help them with their particular problem, or that professionals are busy and would not have the time to help, or simply that they do not deserve to be helped (part of the picture of depression).
We need to do more. We need to do better. We need to translate all the millions of exceedingly worthy research papers into a comprehensive guide with steps to effective prevention, and then train everyone we can in what is absolutely known to work. For professionals and the public alike we need to keep this simple (the KISS principle). It has to be in language that is readily absorbed. Each step has to be attainable.

We don't need to do this one special day a year. We need to do it every day.
We need to reach out whenever we can. We need to reach out to any of our friends who may be struggling, and provide support, a shoulder to cry on, and the best advice we can. We need to help them find solutions.

There are many ways to prevent problems like mental illness and suicide. You might like to try some of the chapters in 'ESSAYS on Prevention in Mental Health' - which tracks 20 years of thinking in the area. It does not cost an arm and a leg. And it may just help you to get enthusiastic about prevention.
The book can be found at:

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