The harsh reality of suicide

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide.

This World Health Organization statement was recently highlighted during the World Mental Health Day commemoration.

The World Mental Health Day falls on October 10 every year.

For 2019, the theme was ‘focus on suicide prevention’. This year, a call for “40 seconds of action” is made to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.

Speaking at the event in Port Moresby, Dame Carol Kidu said the significance of suicide as a global public health problem is often not recognised.

“We need to improve the knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide,” said the advocate. “We need to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. We need to let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.”

Dame Carol pointed out that every person, at one point in time, would have struggled with mental health issues. Apart from psychotic disorders, mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and also trauma-related disorders fall under some of the main groups of mental disorders.

She said one thing that needs to be recognised in PNG is the existence of intellectual disability.

“And there are many children in various stages of autism and various areas like that we still almost have no special services for,” stated the former politician.

“Another area too that goes towards mental health is the age-related mental health. The areas of dementia as elders may become afflicted by dementia or various forms of Alzheimer’s.”

Stressing on the theme ‘40 seconds of action’, Dame Carol asked what we, as members of a community, can do.

“If you see someone who is looking stressed or something going on, and you’re worried about something, just 1 second it takes to say: ‘Are you ok? Oi namo eda lasi? Yu orait o nogat? One second to start the conversation and hopefully, they might say ‘oh I’m not feeling too good, I’m worried’. And then you take another 40 seconds to try to talk with them a bit and understand what’s going on.

“It might be a temporary thing like all of us have with tension and stress, or it might be something much deeper where they’ll need a lot more help.”

Everyone has an important role to play in suicide prevention. You can provide support to people who are vulnerable and to those who have made an attempt on their life. Suicide is preventable, which is why everyone’s help is needed.

(Dame Carol Kidu)

Carmella Gware