suicide prevention

when i was young, i thought for a long time that suicide was a normal, commonplace way for a person’s life to end. it was probably the most frequent cause of death i was familiar from friends and family. my earlier assessment was correct, at least partly – for example, among young men, suicide ranks among the most frequent causes of death. is it “normal”? actually, let’s forget about normal – it’s highly undesirable.

why do people kill themselves? it’s hard to speak of a single cause for a decision that has such a complex and painful pathway. one thing, however, is something that most of those who know about suicide agree on:

people commit suicide because they feel that’s the only way out.

and most of the time what they want a way out from is pain.

some of it is physical pain, mostly for people with chronic pain. cluster headaches, for example, have been called “suicide headaches.” chronic regional pain syndrome (crps, also known as rsd for reflex sympathetic dystrophy).

most of the pain is emotional pain, though. there are so many forms of emotional pain, for example

  • loneliness (e.g. for seniors – older men have a high suicide rate, as well)
  • shame (e.g. gambling has been referred to as the addiction with the highest suicide rate)
  • depression
  • guilt
  • unbearable emotional/mental pressure (e.g. for people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia)

the list goes on.

to raise awareness about suicide, there is an event on september 10 in honour of world suicide prevention day. here is an announcement:

several community partners are organizing a commemorative event on world suicide prevention day at noon on friday september 10, 2010 outside of the vancouver art gallery.

every year in bc almost 500 people die by suicide – for each of those people, there are families and communities who survive them. on september 10 people around the world gather to remember loved ones who have died by suicide, to demonstrate support and compassion for families, friends and communities whose lives are touched by suicide, and to renew our commitment to learning more about suicide prevention, intervention and postvention so we can act effectively to reduce the incidence and impact of a devastating and often preventable tragedy.

we invite you to bring a pair of shoes that can be included in a display on the steps of the vancouver art gallery, commemorating people lost to suicide. after the ceremony, the shoes will be donated to lookout emergency aid society – so please only bring shoes that are serviceable.

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