World Suicide Prevention Day


   By: Jeannie R Boylan

   2015-09-10 07:18 PM

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  It is reported, by the World Health Organization, that there are 800 000 deaths by suicide every year worldwide (  The population of San Francisco is 852, 469 (July 2014) – this is  equivalent to losing this whole city to suicide every year.

What can we do as individuals to prevent suicide?  We can be there for our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers.  We may never know what someone is going through.  Just because someone may look happy on the outside, does not mean they are not going through something on the inside.  Watch for signs like isolation, negative or pessimistic comments and trouble in their life, like the loss of a loved one or loss of a relationship.  Never discount what someone says or how they may feel.  Encourage them to seek help, whether it be from a doctor, spiritual leader, counselor or other mental health professional. 

We are not immune to mental illness because of our social class or our genetics.  We must take the time to prevent stress and create balance in our lives.  We must make sure we listen to what our bodies need.  We can also make sure we protect ourselves by incorporating some of the following activities into our lives:

  • Sleep – everyone needs different amounts of sleep.  Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, but if you need more – take it. 
  • Exercise everyday – this does not mean that you need to go to the gym for 2 hours every day after work.  Just aim to get about 30 minutes every day.  We can get physical in many ways; take a walk, play at the park with your kids, do some yard work, take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Get creative!
  • Eat healthy – start simple.  Print out a food guide/dietary guideline and follow it.  Choose whole foods as much as possible and try to cut out sugar and processed foods.  Have one simple nutritional goal with a deadline.  For example, if you drink two cans of soda pop per day, make it your goal to cut out one can per day.  These small goals will get you on track in no time.
  • Active relaxation – meditate, try a yoga or tai chi class.
  • Participate in recreational/social activities – start a game night with your family, join a walking/running group, try an art class, do something you have always wanted to try.  You will learn something new and meet new people too.   
  • Laugh – we all know how good we feel when we have a good laugh.  Watch your favorite comedy, take a laughter yoga class, just make sure you laugh everyday.

Setting a good lifestyle example for our children, family and friends will go a long way to assist with preventing illness in their lives as well.    

Today we can light a candle in our windows at 8:00 pm to show support for World Suicide Prevention Day.  Please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for more ideas and to learn more about what we can do to prevent suicide in our own families and in our communities.

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