Today, Sunday Antigua and Barbuda will join the rest of the world to celebrate and acknowledge the devastating effects of suicide and raise awareness about the importance of detecting suicidal behavior and preventing the act itself.
September 10 marks the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). The annual event aims to bring attention to the issue, reduce stigma, and increase awareness among organizations, governments, and the public. The singular message is that suicides can be prevented.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 700,000 people worldwide die each year due to suicide, with many more attempting or contemplating suicide at some point in their life.
Sadly, Antigua and Barbuda is not immune to this issue, with several people tragically taking their own lives in recent years.
Local experts point out that if you notice a change in someone’s behavior, including appetite or sleep patterns, it could be a sign that the person may be contemplating suicide.
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts is urged to seek guidance from a healthcare professional, which can be done free of charge by going to the nearest clinic and asking to speak to a psychiatric nurse or by going to the Family and Social Services Counselling Unit, according to mental health advocate Monifa St John.
Established in 2023 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and WHO, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed every year on September 10.
The theme for this year remains ‘Creating Hope Through Action’, which has been designated for the years 2021-2023.
This theme serves as a powerful call to action and a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and that our actions can encourage hope and strengthen prevention.
The WHO believes that by creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them.
It also suggests that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those struggling.