Along with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), we are committed to preventing suicide. These organizations recognize World Suicide Prevention Day as an important day in the international calendar. World Suicide Prevention Day brings together individuals and organizations with an interest in suicide prevention, and mobilizes efforts to save lives.
Efforts to prevent suicide have been celebrated on World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10th – each year since 2003 – globally and here in Waterloo Region. In 2014, the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Suicide Prevention: One World Connected.’ The theme reflects the fact that connections are important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.
Download the event poster here.
Connectedness is crucial to individuals who may be vulnerable to suicide. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide and, conversely, that having strong human bonds can be protective against it. Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act.
Connectedness can also be understood in terms of clinical care. Mental illness, particularly depression, is an important risk factor for suicide. Internationally, treatments for mental illness have improved, but access to these treatments remains unequal. Primary care providers, often the first port of call for people with mental illness, are not always able to diagnose and treat mental illness. Specialist mental health care providers are not always available, so referral options may be limited. Even when services are available, they are not always sufficiently well coordinated to provide optimal care. People with mental illness often ‘fall through the cracks’, particularly – but not exclusively – in developing countries. Connectedness and collaboration between services is also important at this level in preventing suicide. The right service or individual clinician must be available at the right time for someone with mental health problems, and must be able to offer and deliver effectively the full range of treatment options.
Finally, connectedness is necessary at a national and international level. Many clinical and non-clinical organizations are working towards the goal of preventing suicide, but their efforts are not always synchronized. World Suicide Prevention Day has proved to be very successful in encouraging organizations to coordinate their efforts and learn from each other. It has also assisted those who have been bereaved by suicide in making themselves heard in discussions about suicide prevention. This has sharpened the focus on activities that are effective in preventing suicide.
Here in Waterloo Region, we will be hosting a charity barbeque and music by Craig Cardiff starting at 4:30. There will also be a community information fair in the Rotunda beginning at noon which you will be able to connect with different organizations across the Region and receive information on services. The annual butterfly release will take place at 6:00 in the back garden of Kitchener City Hall near Duke St. This special ceremony honours those lost to suicide and brings people together. We will also hear from a local family physician, Dr. Glenn Pearce, who has been working diligently with the Council to bring suicide prevention training and education to fellow colleagues.
Please come and join us.