National Suicide Prevention Week, which begins on September 4 and ends on September 10 this year, is an annual campaign observed in the United States to educate and inform the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. It also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance because going to therapy should be as normalized as going to the gym.
History of Suicide Prevention Week
The American Association of Suicidology sponsors National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) activities. Since 1975, NSPW awareness events are held throughout the week corresponding to World Suicide Prevention Day, which is recognized annually on September 10.
Although suicide awareness activities started in the 1950s, the history of suicide itself goes back to the 1700s. The act of suicide is also prominently mentioned in ancient legend and history. Ajax the great killed himself in the Trojan War and Lucretia’s suicide around 510 B.C. initiated the revolt that displaced the Roman Kingdom.
Attitudes towards suicide have varied over the years through the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with some supporting the act in cases when people were afflicted with a disease and some denying that suicide was a crime. It was not until the 1950s that suicide prevention activities in the U.S. started.
Suicide Prevention Week timeline
The first suicide prevention center in the United States opens in Los Angeles, California.
A nonprofit organization advocating for suicide prevention is established by Edwin S. Shneidman.
A national strategy is established, using the United Nations guidelines for the prevention of suicide.
The Reno Conference is viewed as the founding event of the modern suicide prevention movement.
Suicide Prevention Week FAQs
What is the most suicidal month?
It is assumed that the suicidal rate is higher in dark and cold months of winter, however, studies show that suicide rates peak during early summer and late spring.
Which country is the most suicidal?
Lithuania is currently among the countries with the highest suicide rates in the world.
How many people die by suicide every year?
Almost 800,000 people die every year due to suicide, which means one death every 40 seconds, according to the WHO.
How to Observe Suicide Prevention Week
One of the most helpful and effective ways we can observe Suicide Prevention Week is by raising awareness of it. We need to reduce the stigma around it and raise awareness so that more and more people can reach out for help.
The best thing we can do is to learn more about it. We need to educate ourselves and facilitate proactive prevention in our communities so that we can shatter the silence around our mental health.
Look out for others
Most of the people suffering from poor mental health do not reach out for help for fear of being judged or misunderstood. So we need to look out for others and check for warning signs. We need to help people feel heard and understood.
5 Facts About Assisted Suicide
The first country that legalized euthanasia was the Netherlands in 2001.
10 countries have legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Despite taking the Hippocratic Oath, doctors perform euthanasia in certain circumstances.
Euthanasia is not always painless
Some unethical doctors euthanize a patient through carbon monoxide, the use of plastic bags to suffocate them, or starve them.
Euthanasia in a royal family
King George V was suffering from cardiorespiratory failure and was given drugs to be euthanized.
Why Suicide Prevention Week is Important
It helps prevent suicide
We can save plenty of lives by raising awareness this week, reaching out to those affected by suicide, and connecting individuals with suicidal thoughts to treatment services.
It reduces stigma around mental health
By spreading awareness during Suicide Prevention Week, the stigma around mental health has reduced a great deal and most people nowadays are not ashamed to ask for help.
It fosters compassion in people
Gaining knowledge about this week is helping people learn to empathize, be compassionate, and come together as a community to educate and support each other.
Suicide Prevention Week dates