Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), an opportunity for the world to come together to shine a light on mental health.
- Roughly 4,000 Canadians die per year, by suicide; an average of almost 11 suicides a day and 210 will attempt suicide 1, 3
- More than 75% of suicides involve men, but women attempt suicide 3 to 4 times more often 1, 2
- In 1 year, more than 3,396,000 Canadians aged 12 and over had suicidal thoughts (2015) 4
- For each death by suicide, between 7 and 10 survivors are profoundly affected 4
- Every day in Canada, suicide leaves up to 100 people in a state of bereavement 4
Over the last decade, we have undoubtedly made great strides to increase mental health awareness and to turn up the volume on a message that for some, still needs to be heard. Nonetheless, these numbers are still staggering and are a clear indication that there is still work to be done worldwide, to truly lift the veil on mental illness and to help prevent suicide.
To further illustrate the magnitude of this health crisis, in Ontario alone, the disease burden of mental illness and addiction is 1.5 times higher than all cancers put together and more than 7 times that of all infectious diseases. This includes years lived with less than full function and years lost to early death. 5
As published by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), suicide is a critical public health issue in Canada and is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years. Suicide is currently ranked as the 9th leading cause of death in Canada. 3
No one is immune to mental health problems and approximately 20 percent of Canadians will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.6 Why is it then, that in the face of such an unmistakeable epidemic, we are still addressing stigma?
As defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Stigma is ‘a mark of shame or discredit’7 and the Canadian Mental Health Association suggests that Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.8 The real shame, is that stigma associated with mental illness can delay or even prevent a person from seeking the help that they need, which makes talking about mental health as important as ever.
Because mental illness affects all aspects of a person’s life and the lives of those around them, inevitably work life can be considerably impacted. Things like decreased productivity, mood irritability leading to increased interpersonal conflict, increased absenteeism, and short-term and long-term disability are all potential outcomes of someone’s struggle with mental illness.9
Overall, 39% of Ontario workers indicate that they would not tell their managers if they were experiencing a mental health problem.10 This makes creating a healthy and safe workplace environment necessary in order to effectively support those who are in need. In addition, encouraging people to seek professional help and showing understanding and acceptance are all ways in which you can help.
Promoting understanding and raising awareness of this critical mental health issue that continues to sweep our Nation, are just some of the way you can contribute. There are supports and preventative measures available to those in need, and there are ways we can all work together reduce the number of lives that are lost so tragically, to suicide.
According to CASP, the 2018-2020 theme for WSPD is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”, an important message as people and communities increasingly recognize the impact of suicide and strive to prevent it. To promote this message in 2019, CASP has chosen an image showing a group of people with light shining behind them as a symbol of hope and life.3
Show your support of World Suicide Prevention Day. Any action, big or small, can make a meaningful difference to those whose lives have been touched by suicide.
Light a candle near a window at 8pm today
Not only does this light symbolize hope, these candles shine in remembrance of those who have died from suicide and in honour those who survive after being impacted by suicide.
Wear an orange and yellow ribbon
A symbol of hope and light in the darkness, these colours show support for suicide prevention and symbolize a candle's flame. Order yours at https://suicideprevention.ca/Store
Take a minute
Download the World Suicide Prevention Day document that discusses how taking a minute to reach out to someone could change the course of another’s life. https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/take-a-minute/
ASKING FOR HELP CAN BE HARD
If you or someone you know needs support there are free and accessible resources available. Making an appointment with your family physician can be a great first step in getting yourself connected. You can also check with your employer to see if there is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered.
If you are thinking about Suicide you don’t have to face it alone.
Canada Suicide Prevention Service Toll Free 1-833-456-4566
Residents of Quebec call 1-866-277-3553
Visit http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/ for local resources and support
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CALL 9-1-1
1 Statistics Canada (2018). Deaths and age-specific mortality rates, by selected grouped causes, Canada, 2016. Table: 13-10-0392-01
2 Ialomiteanu et al (2016). CAMH Monitor eReport: Substance use, mental health and well-being among Ontario adults, 1977-2015. CAMH Research Document Series no. 45. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
3 Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention https://www.suicideprevention.ca/resources/WSPD2019/2019%20WSPD%20Press%20Release.pdf
4 Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention https://suicideprevention.ca/page-18154
5 Ratnasingham et al. (2012). Opening eyes, opening minds: The Ontario burden of mental illness and addictions. An Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences / Public Health Ontario report. Toronto: ICES.
6 Chesney, Goodwin and Fazel (2014). Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review. World Psychiatry, 13: 153-60.
8 The Canadian Mental Health Association https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/stigma-and-discrimination/
9 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/discussing-mental-health-remains-as-important-as-ever
10 Canadian Medical Association (2008). 8th annual National Report Card on Health Care. Retrieved from https://www.cma.ca/multimedia/CMA/Content_Images/Inside_cma/Annual_Meeting/2008/GC_Bulletin/National_Report_Card_EN.pdf