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Suicide Awareness and the New Year

(Originally posted on Jan 22, 2021)

It has been a strange year for all of us. A year with experiences and emotions that will be etched into our memories forever. For some of us, we have both gained and lost; some will focus on the positive, while many of us will struggle with the negative. But if there is one thing that we should learn, if we haven’t already, is that our individual actions have a significant effect on people around us, with the possibility of global consequences. This is why the key recommendations for slowing the pandemic are based on human actions. Every person plays a role. Social distancing (aka physical distancing) and the wearing of face masks are small measures that aren’t near 100% effective, but still make a statement that says “I am aware of my social impact and responsibility”. But how can Social Responsibility help in a time where stress is at an all-time high?

Being aware of the difference one action can make gives meaning, especially when a sense of purpose is lacking. This is very important as we move away from the festivities of this season into the New Year. Most of us naturally reflect on our lives at these endpoints. We analyse our accomplishments, regrets, relationships and set goals for a better year ahead. The hope of change and betterment resonates in us, but unfortunately a downside exists for those who struggle to see the bright side. Fact is serious mental health issues presenting to hospitals decline in December, but what is bothering is that there is a rise in cases of suicide on New Year’s Day and in the early part of the new year. This is seen internationally and highlights the need for us to be more aware of people’s feelings. More significantly for this New Year, many more people are facing loss and financial and psychological stressors worsened by high levels of global uncertainty.

An individual, small act of kindness can go a long way in these times. Paying attention to the emotions and needs of those around us and by simply recognising and responding to feelings of immense sadness or hopelessness, we have an opportunity to provide positive help. While those of us who are at the ends of our rope feel that the world will be better off without us or that no one will miss us when we are gone, this simply isn’t true. Thoughts like these perpetuate depression and takes away from the positive impact we can have in a world that is falling apart. While these situations and feelings may seem to have no end in sight, the reality is they are transient, just like everything else in life. As the saying goes, “Nothing lasts forever” and as I add, “not even the bad”.

Understanding that these problems are all around us, we as friends, loved ones or even as acquaintances, have a social responsibility to those we come into contact with either physically or virtually. If we recognise someone is struggling with depression or a stressful life event, there are ways to help:

  1. Be aware of the warning signs -

  2. Be a good listener - no judgement

  3. Do not think this is trivial - it is not about seeking attention, it is a call for help!

  4. Do not leave the person alone - seek professional help either via a helpline/ hotline/ qualified medical practitioner

  5. Do not promise to keep thoughts of suicide a secret

  6. Encourage the person to avoid alcohol or substance abuse

  7. Remove potentially dangerous items from the person’s home if possible

  8. Do not promise to fix their situation

  9. Offer reassurance that things will get better

If you are having thoughts of suicide yourself:

  1. Do not do anything - WAIT! - thoughts often change, even thoughts of suicide

  2. Avoid drugs and alcohol - take care of your body so you remain in control of your thoughts and emotions

  3. Make your home safe - remove anything that you can use to hurt yourself with

  4. Don’t keep your thoughts of suicide to yourself - share them with someone you trust. They may be able to listen, offer solutions and help you get the care you need. Hotlines, helplines and medical practitioners are also available to you.

  5. Always have HOPE - believe that change is the only constant and these thoughts WILL change

  6. Find the positive - there are lots of sights, sounds, and experiences that can bring uplifting and gratifying emotions. Sometimes these can include helping someone else who is truly in need.

If you have missed warning signs in the past, please don’t blame yourself. At the end of it all, we are not responsible for preventing someone from taking their own life. Being mindful of our social responsibility, listening to someone, suggesting that other options exist when they can’t see any for themselves, are sometimes the most we can do.

Knowledge is power, and a heart is gold. We all have the human capacity to care for ourselves and for others. There is no better time than now to invest in our own ability to care.

If you need more information or require any help, reach out to us at Noor Corporate Health today. By sharing this information, you too can help others be aware and hopefully prevent more pain and suffering in our communities.

We wish you a safe, contented and peaceful New Year!


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