More than 800,000 people die by suicide around the world every year. According to the World Health Organization, “Every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world.”
The theme for this year is Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives. We all have a role to play in suicide prevention.
Here are seven things I learned about suicide, mental health and prevention today.
1. Pay attention to the call for help.
The Suicide Hotline has experienced an influx of phone calls after Robin William’s death a year ago. Newsweek reported, “In July 2014, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was receiving about 3,500 calls a day. That number rose threefold the day after Williams’s death. It remained about 50 percent higher than usual for a week and, in the year since, has set a new baseline for what the organization considers normal.”
The man known for comedy struggled with a lifetime of depression and mental illness. His death triggered more people asking for help than ever before.
Don’t miss their cry for help.
2. Churches seem to be more comfortable reaching out to people with physical sickness than mental sickness.
Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Missionand Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry has called mental illness the “no-casserole illness.”
Simpson shared, “In my own experience, what churches have done wrong is mostly remain silent—just ignore mental illness altogether. As a young teenager, I would have been helped tremendously by discussion of mental illness within the church and even within the context of my youth group. My whole family would have benefited from extensions of friendship and offers to help when we were at our lowest. Instead, we felt pressure to pretend as if everything were fine and to put on our best face at church. This had the effect of making me feel as if I needed to do the same in my relationship with God and kept me from really trusting him for a long time. It also forced me to seek answers to my deepest spiritual questions on my own; I didn’t feel I could go to anyone with them.”
Church, how can we be a safe place for people to wrestle with mental illness and get the help and support they need?