World Suicide Prevention Day 2014: One World Connected

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Suicide is a worldwide public health crisis. In America alone, suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 people each year, making it the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. Despite its prevalence, the topic can be difficult to discuss—but if we truly want to help those considering or affected by suicide, we must keep the conversation going.

This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day’s theme is “One World Connected,” reflecting the connectedness which is so vital for suicide prevention. We can all join the conversation, by speaking out or lending an ear, to help bring awareness and understanding to the cause. Those at risk of suicide often feel alone or beyond help, but promoting a culture of worldwide connectedness can bring hope, and along with it, prevention.

This theme also sheds light on the fact that suicide affects everyone, in every culture, across the world. Depression (a major risk factor) and suicide don’t discriminate, and affect every race, gender, and age. And as parents, educators, and role models for teens, you can bet that suicide affects our lives and those of our teens every day. In fact, nearly 16% of youth in grades 9-12 have seriously considered suicide, according to the CDC.

Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, asks that we all participate in order to see change. In his piece “How We End Suicide” for the Huffington Post, he writes, “We must do more to encourage those who are struggling to get help. To do that we need to change the culture from one where people are embarrassed to seek help, to one where everyone knows that taking care of your mental health is the smart thing to do.”

Together, we can change our nation’s attitude toward mental health to one of acceptance and understanding. So how can you get involved? The aim of the day is awareness, so spread the word. Share one of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s PSAs, or show your support by tweeting with the hashtag #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. Help end the stigma by joining the conversation, and turn our culture into one that takes mental health seriously.

And if you have thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)), staffed by real people and available 24/7. Remember that there is no shame in asking for help, and someone is always there to listen.

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For stories about mental health and other important topics written specifically for teens, subscribe to Choices magazine. In our November/December issue, we share the stories of six real teens who are shining a light on depression in a story that is not to be missed.