Lacson: The invisible killer


ACCORDING to the latest available data from the World Health Organization, one person dies because of suicide every 40 seconds. That figure sums up to nearly 800,000 people succumbing to suicide every year, and it is recorded as the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally, occurring as high as 79 percent in low- and middle-income countries.

Although the World Health Organization cites that the correlation between suicide and mental disorders such as depression is clearly established, it is noted that most suicide cases happen in moments of crisis that occur when one person experiences loss, loneliness, discrimination, a relationship break-up, financial problems, chronic pain and illness, violence, abuse, and conflict or other humanitarian emergencies.

Last September 10, during the World Suicide Prevention Day, the World Health Organization launched the "#40seconds of action" campaign to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it. Similarly, the campaign will be the highlight of the celebration of the World Mental Health Day on October10 which seeks to improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

Raising the awareness for common people on how to simply reach out to people suffering mental health disorders is one, if not the best, intervention that can be undertaken to help gradually deter the alarming increase of suicide cases. Take for instance, someone I know suffering with depression said that it only takes us to give some time to listen to what they have to say, and nothing else. The resort that we can give to them to enable them to vent out what goes through in their minds is a great help to those who are battling this seemingly invisible killer.

WHO recommends four key interventions which include restricting access to means, helping young people develop skills to cope with life's pressures, early identification and management of people who are thinking about suicide or who have made a suicide attempt, keeping follow-up contact in the short and longer-term, and working with the media to ensure responsible reporting of suicide.

For those who are struggling with various mental health problems, there are many interventions available for you to reach out to such as Hopeline PH which is open 24/7 through hotline numbers 804-HOPE (4673), 0917-558-HOPE (4673), and 2919 (For Globe and TM Subscribers).

Let me quote the World Health Organization on this helpful insights intended for those battling depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental health issues:

* If you are struggling, take 40 seconds to kick-start a conversation with someone you trust about how you are feeling.

* If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, take 40 seconds to start a conversation and ask them how they are doing.

* If you work in media, highlight the 40-second statistic in interviews, articles and blogposts.

* If you work in the arts or on digital platforms, interrupt your production or broadcast to transmit a 40-second message about mental health or preventing suicide.

* If you are an employer or manager, take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to your employees about resources available to them in the workplace or local community in times of mental distress.

* If you want your leaders to hear your request for action, record a 40-second audio clip or video telling them the action you want them to take on suicide prevention and mental health.

* If you have a platform for communicating with a large audience (social media, television, radio), provide 40-second slots for sharing mental health stories and messages.

* If you hold political office, communicate publicly about action you are taking to promote mental health and prevent suicide, highlighting the 40-second statistic.


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