Today kicks off National Suicide Awareness Week. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2010 nearly 40,000 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.
I know so many mothers who have contemplated suicide when in the throes of postpartum depression, and some, it breaks my heart to say, who have carried it out. Suicide accounts for 20% of deaths in the first postpartum year, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality. In fact, whether it’s due to severe PPD or another cause, the vast majority of people who take their own lives are struggling with mental illness. This is always a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Mental illness is not and should not be a death sentence. It’s important that we all speak out to raise awareness of suicide and the fact that it can be prevented. People do care. Your life does matter. There is help.
Here are five easy ways you can join in and use your voice and your social media platform to speak up for suicide prevention this week:
1) Honor someone lost to suicide. Join the World Suicide Prevention Day 2013 Facebook page here and post on the wall in honor of someone you know who was lost to suicide or about why this issue is important to you.
2) Write a blog post. Join USC’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Blog carnival and share how your life has been touched by suicide. Then share your blog post for suicide prevention on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtags #SABD13 and #suicideprevention.
3) Light a candle. On Tuesday the 10th, which is World Suicide Prevention Day, light a candle in a window at 8pm in your time zone to show your support for suicide prevention and the survivors of suicide.
4) Join a Twitter chat. Today at 1p Eastern/10am Pacific, September 9th, join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, USA Today and the Mayo Clinic for a Twitter chat that will debunk suicide myths. Use the hashtag #SuicideChat to participate. On September 10th from 2-3pm ET, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will host a Twitter chat with Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., about detecting youth at risk for attempting suicide. Use the hashtag #NIMHChats. Later in the week, on Thursday, September 12th at 4pm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will host a Twitter Chat about “How to Prevent Suicide Online.” Follow @800273TALK on Twitter and use the hashtag #Preventsuicide to join the conversation.
5) Share resources. Post Secret developed a suicide prevention wiki that offers a worldwide directory of suicide prevention hotlines, online chat, text-lines, and resources. Make sure people know about how to access help whenever they need it, wherever they are, by sharing a link to that wiki. You can also add an awareness ribbon to your blog, website or avatar to help spread the word about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, so people know where to call when in crisis. And, blogger and advocate Cristi Comes says you can tweet out important facts about suicide, such as this one:
Fact: Suicide can be prevented, even once someone has “made up their mind”. Learn more at afsp.org #WorldWithoutSuicide
Finally, I want you to know that if you’re a mom struggling with PPD or postpartum anxiety and you’re wondering whether you need help and unsure whether you’re in danger of harming yourself, please read An Explanation of Suicidal Thinking In Plain Mama English. There is always hope, and you can and will get better from PPD with professional help. If you don’t know where to turn, visit us at Postpartum Progress and we’ll be happy to help.