September 10, 2018 is the 10th edition of World Suicide Prevention Day. The event seeks to promote awareness about suicide and how to prevent it.
Suicide: A Social Issue
According to statistics, one person attempts suicide every three seconds. One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. There are more than one million suicide deaths every year worldwide. These are chilling statistics. The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is the 13th leading cause of death for all age groups combined; it is one of the main causes of death among youth.
Suicide often stems from a feeling of ill-being or despair. Suicidal individuals frequently suffer from social isolation, solitude or mental health problems such as depression. While there are many causes of suicide, they all fall into one of two categories: psychological factors and social factors.
- Psychological factors: people who attempt suicide have often experienced trauma. A history of physical or sexual abuse, or being in foster care, are other factors. Fragile mental health or difficulty managing one’s emotions or stress are also aggravating factors. Substance abuse and alcoholism are frequent factors in depression and bipolar disorders. In the United-States, between one third and one half of suicides are linked to one form or other of substance abuse.
- Social factors: professional and economic issues can also be involved in suicide attempts. Socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty and discrimination can lead to suicidal thoughts. Religion also plays a role: predominantly Muslim countries have a near zero suicide rate because suicide is seen as an offence against God. By contrast, in countries without a state religion, such as China and many Western countries, suicide rates are particularly high.
Communicating to Help Alleviate Suffering
World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to address the suffering of people who have been impacted by suicide and to highlight the fact that suicide is not something that only happens to others. It is an opportunity to stress the importance of communicating with a person who is showing suicidal tendencies. Communication in such circumstances is vital, and organizations who seek to prevent suicide strive to raise awareness of this issue.
A number of activities are scheduled on World Suicide Prevention Day. In the province of Québec, several organizations are holding activities such as walks, public gatherings, conferences, benefit shows, and media events. Others are joining forces with local community groups and workplaces. For this 10th edition, l’Association québécoise de prévention du suicide (Quebec Association for Suicide Prevention) invites everyone to light a candle near a window to show their support for the cause, to remember a loved one and to support persons impacted by suicide.
 Bruce Gross, Forensic Examiner, Summer 2006.
 Pierre Moron, Le suicide : « Que sais-je ? » n° 1569, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2005