TODAY -

Mental health and suicide: A major global health issue

Kungsong Wanbe *



The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that suicide death is among top leading causes of death. The report affirms that at least one million people die by their own hand every year, that is one death every 45 (forty five) years, suicide rate has increased by 60 (sixty) percent worldwide making it now among the three leading causes of death, in some countries for those age 15 (fifteen) to 44 (forty four). In the United States alone, more than twice as many Americans die of suicide.

Even more concerning is that among 9 (nine) out of 10 (ten) people who died by suicide have at least one underlying mental health issue, including substance use. Among the top risk factors for suicide are depression or mood disorder and alcohol or drug use. Among the youth, this reality has become worse due to the influence of social media and mobile games.

The popular Blue Whale game challenges participants to ultimately kill themselves. As a result, more than 130 (one hundred and thirty) teenagers have ended their lives prematurely in Russia alone every year.

Thus, it is no wonder that among the top United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), one of the priorities is to reduce by one-third premature mortality by 2030 and to promote mental health and well-being.

Fortunately, suicide is a preventable public health problem. There are things we can do to help identify those at risk and help them seek help before they attempt suicide. Elders and other faithful leaders are first responders and have a critical role to play in prevention.

Research shows that often those at risk are more likely to seek help for their mental or emotional struggles from a faith leader than from a therapist. Here are some ways that elders can help in suicide prevention.

Let us look at some points briefly hereunder.

1. Identify and offer support to individuals at risk as this is a crucial part of a proactive approach to suicide prevention. Speak about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide. This can help to clarify myths or misconception and make it good to talk about it.

2. Offer warm connection, acceptance, and a caring attitude toward all, but most importantly toward those who are vulnerable, lonely and have suffered traumatic events in their lives. Strengthening connectedness within community can be one of the most important factors in decreasing risk for suicide.

3. Provide helpful resources and access to mental health care and addiction recovery programs such as Recovery Global Health Ministries and Educational Programs such as Mental Health, First Aid are offered in many communities.

The faith community can be a place for education not just about the risk factors for suicide, but also about mental health, thus helping to diminish the stigma associated with these conditions and then refer to treatment by a health professional.

4. Share messages of hope and healing that can build one’s faith in heavenly God and give them a sense of purpose and self worth. A deep loving relationship with God can help in prevention of suicide and healing. If possible, schedule a mental and health rest and talk about mental health topics such as suicide, offering words of encouragement and hope.

Lastly but not the least, every year on October 10, we have World Mental Health Day. This date offers a great opportunity to put into practice some of the suggestions given above. Let us remind people that nothing, including suicide can separate us from the love of God.

People who die by suicide are not to be deplored and elders and community leaders can send a message that it is unjust for the stigma to fall on the surviving family members and friends.

Let us help the family of survivors and do not judge those who survive a suicide attempt.

May God bless all the people of Manipur/Kangleipak.


* Kungsong Wanbe wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on 29 April, 2018 .


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