World Mental Health Day is celebrated on 10 October each year. This year, the theme is ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’.
World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992. It was started as an annual activity of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) by the then Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter. The day is officially commemorated every year on October 10th.
This year, the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health, and International Association for Suicide Prevention are partnering with WFMH on World Mental Health Day.
Close to 800 000 people die by suicide every year; that’s one person every 40 seconds. Suicide occurs throughout life. It is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.
Suicide occurs in all regions of the world. In fact, 79% of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries.
While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis. Further risk factors include
- experience of loss,
- a relationship break-up,
- financial problems,
- chronic pain and illness,
- abuse, and
- conflict or other humanitarian emergencies.
The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.
If you sometimes feel that life seems so hard that it is no longer worth living:
What you might be thinking or feeling:
- The pain seems overwhelming and unbearable.
- You feel hopeless, like there is no point in living.
- You are consumed by negative and disturbing thoughts.
- You cannot imagine any solution to your problems other than suicide.
- You imagine death as a relief.
- You think everyone would be better off without you.
- You feel worthless.
- You feel very lonely even when you have friends and family.
- You do not understand why you are feeling or thinking this way.
What you need to remember:
- You are not alone. Many other people have gone through what you are going through and are alive today.
- It is okay to talk about suicide. It can help you feel better.
- Having an episode of self-harm or suicidal thoughts or plans is a sign of severe emotional distress (perhaps as a result of the loss of a loved one, loss of employment, a relationship break-up, or experience of violence or abuse). You are not to blame and it can happen to anyone.
- You can get better.
- There are people who can help you.
What you can do:
- Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or colleague about how you feel.
- If you think you are in immediate danger of harming yourself contact the emergency services or a crisis line, or go there directly.
- Talk to a professional, such as a doctor, mental health professional, counsellor or social worker.
- If you practice a religion, talk to someone from your religious community who you trust.
- Join a self-help or support group for people with lived experience of self-harm. You can help each other to feel better.
Remember: If you feel like life is not worth living, reach out for help. You are not alone. Help is available.
Every 40 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world, dies by suicide. For people with severe depression, it is not uncommon to think about suicide.
What you should know if you are worried about someone:
- Suicides are preventable.
- It is okay to talk about suicide.
- Asking about suicide does not provoke the act of suicide. It often reduces anxiety and helps people feel understood.
Warning signs that someone may be seriously thinking about suicide:
- Threatening to kill oneself.
- Saying things like “No-one will miss me when I am gone.”
- Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as seeking access to pesticides, firearms or medication, or browsing the internet for means of taking one’s own life.
- Saying goodbye to close family members and friends, giving away of valued possessions, or writing a will.
Who is at risk of suicide?
- People who have previously tried to take their own life.
- Someone with depression or an alcohol or drug problem.
- Those who are suffering from severe emotional distress, for example following the loss of a loved one or a relationship break-up.
- People suffering from chronic pain or illness.
- People who have experienced war, violence, trauma, abuse or discrimination.
- Those who are socially isolated.
What you can do:
- Find an appropriate time and a quiet place to talk about suicide with the person you are worried about. Let them know that you are there to listen.
- Encourage the person to seek help from a professional, such as a doctor, mental health professional, counsellor or social worker. Offer to accompany them to an appointment.
- If you think the person is in immediate danger, do not leave him or her alone. Seek professional help from the emergency services, a crisis line, or a health-care professional, or turn to family members.
- If the person you are worried about lives with you, ensure that he or she does not have access to means of self-harm (for example pesticides, firearms or medication) in the home.
- Stay in touch to check how the person is doing.
Remember: If you know someone who may be considering suicide, talk to them about it. Listen with an open mind and offer your support.
Link to World Mental Health Day 2019 web site:
Link to WHO’s ‘Preventing Suicide: A Resource Series’:
Link to WHO’s Suicide prevention toolkit for engaging communities:
Link to WHO’s Live Life: Preventing Suicide brochure:
Link to WHO’s Resource on preventing suicide for pesticide registrars and regulators:
Link to WHO’s mhGAP Intervention Guide 2.0:
Link to Toolkit ‘After a Student Suicide’:
Link to WHO flyer ’40 seconds of action’:
Link to WHO video on World Mental Health Day 2019: