I was going to talk about the conflict in Syria, but there are so many people who've said what I'm thinking on it better than I ever could so I think I'll avoid that bandwagon. Instead, let me talk to you about something that is even closer to my heart, something I only recently learned about but have been researching like crazy since I found out about it: World Suicide Prevention Day.
WSPD is on September 10th every year. It's a joint effort between the International Association of Suicide Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health. This is its 11th anniversary. This year's focus is on the stigma of talking about suicide as a barrier. Read the article through the link to better understand this event.
Suicide is not a joke. Nor is it, as I've heard some people say, the process of natural selection. Natural selection implies a predator taking out the weakest or sickest of the population. Suicide is for the most part self-inflicted and can be prevented by people paying attention and offering help where help is needed.
I've been suicidal before. I probably wouldn't be here if not for my family and friends. Four times in my life I've had the method, the means, and the will to do it. My depression, a mental illness that is as devastating in its own way at times as cancer, overwhelmed me and took its toll on my mental stability. My father prevented my first attempt. Himself has prevented two of the three remaining attempts. A friend prevented the third. All because they were paying attention and even if they didn't know the warning signs of suicidal tendencies, they knew something was wrong.
The most important thing I can say about suicide prevention is educate yourself. Learn what the signs of someone considering suicide are. There are some distinct signs that can be overlooked if you're not watching for them. Pay attention to your friends and family. If they're showing signs of depression, try to convince them to seek help. Not everyone is willing to admit they have a problem. I didn't want to accept my diagnosis for several years. It's only been within the last few years that I've accepted it and started looking for ways to control it.
Suicide is the final choice for those of us who feel we have no other reason for life. People who are abused, bullied, or suffer from mental illness are the most likely candidates for attempting to end their lives. We are the forgotten ones, the ones on the edge of society. We are the ones that people look down on, step on, or ignore. We are the ones crying for help that nobody hears. If they do hear, it's generally either too late or they don't pay attention.
Don't turn your back on the bullied. Don't ignore the abused. Don't shy away from the mentally ill. Noticing the problem is the first step in prevention. Step forward when no one else will and provide those who are suffering a lifeline. Sometimes it doesn't work, but sometimes just even a single person caring about them, a single person willing to step forward and show them that they have worth and value, sometimes that's all it takes to save a life.