World Suicide Prevention Day 
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
When was the last time someone told you, "You Are Irreplaceable!" Whether it was just 5-minutes ago, sometime in the distant past, or never, I want you to hear it now.
YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE!
Why is this important? Because today, September 10, 2022, is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Before we talk about World Suicide Prevention Day (2022), I want you to consider the following large cities and their respective populations listed in the World Population Review:
City POPULATION (2022)
Uberlandia, Brazil 703,607
Taif, Saudi Arabia 701,675
Seville, Spain 701,339
Oklahoma City, United States 701,266
Bristol, United Kingdom 700,630
What do these cities have in common? Answer: Their populations approximate the number of completed suicides globally each year. Approximately 703,000 people take their own lives each year, and there are at least 20 more attempts for every completed suicide (Source: World Health Organization).
Think about that number...703,000, the approximate number of an entire population of many cities worldwide, GONE. Each one of those suicide "statistics" represents an "Irreplaceable Person" to an untold number of friends, family, and God.
World Suicide Prevention Day
In 2003, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization established World Suicide Prevention Day. Each year on September 10, these organizations and countless partners around the world "focus attention on the issue, reduce stigma and raise awareness among organizations, government, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented"(WHO).
Here are a few helpful links if you have specific questions regarding suicide:
Suicide Statistics by Country (World Population Review)
Suicide Statistics in the United States by age, gender, and race/ethnicity (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
Can We Prevent Suicide?
The World Health Organization (see statement above) clarifies that "suicide can be prevented." Further, an online survey (N=2,072) of U.S. adults ages 18 and over found that:
93% feel suicide is preventable at least sometimes
78% say they would be interested in learning how to play a role in helping someone who may be suicidal (note: we will come back to this shortly)
Source: Public Perception of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Survey Results from August 2020 by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Education Development Center, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention from July 22 -24, 2020
The Gap Between the Ideal World and the Real World
The Ideal World
In an ideal world, death by suicide would be nonexistent. We know this is true because scripture tells us it is true.
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4
The Real World
Unfortunately, we still live in "the old order of things"; that is, the Real World. In the real world, pain and suffering lead far too many to suicide. But, do we (individually and collectively) understand that not every suicide is preventable? Well, the real-world survey says
The general population knows we won't prevent every suicide
Mental health practitioners know it
Emergency room physicians and nurses know it
Law Enforcement First-Responders know it
Pastors and Priests know it
And, perhaps most acutely, the friends and families of loved ones who took their own lives certainly know it.
To deny that suicide is one of the last human freedoms is to deny one's free will. No matter how competent the professional or caring the friend or family member is, some people will still choose the option of suicide. To reinforce this point, consider the following:
Since the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization established World Suicide Prevention Day in 2003, look at the trend in completed suicides by year:
Despite our worldly best efforts, the trend in completed suicides rose from 2000 to 2018, with a slight dip from 2018 to 2020. This is the case because I was professionally involved in suicide intervention in the field and as a university professor preparing master's level counselors and therapists.
In fact, in 2010, my graduate students at Texas A&M International University and I organized a "LogoWalk" to raise awareness of suicide and promote finding meaning in life. We had over 500 people participate in the walk from Laredo, Texas. Our t-shirts reflected the current number of suicides in the United States in 2010 at 31,045. In 2020, that number was 45,979!
So, is suicide prevention a hopeless cause? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Our most significant opportunities are right now.
Until The Ideal World Comes, We Keep Working in the Real World
Many people are finding the world more stressful, anxiety-provoking, meaningless, and even hopeless. As a result, they lack confidence in uncertain times. These inner experiences and perceptions of reality increase the probability of suicidal thoughts and completed suicide. In fact, the survey we looked at earlier suggests that 78% of the respondents were interested in learning more about how they could help a person considering suicide. That figure shocked me.
Although in research, we assume that people will respond honestly, we know there is a socially desirable response that people will choose. Thus, 78% is a very concerning statistic. If you have a friend or loved one who expresses suicidal thoughts to a co-worker, you pray that they are not one of the 22% uninterested in life or death issues.
"Creating Hope Through Action" is the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2022. Several of us have decided to continue working in support of our brothers and sisters who suffer to the point of suicide and the friends and family who survive in the wake of completed suicides.
To this end, we intend to do the following:
Create a series of 24 blog posts (two per month until World Suicide Prevention Day 2023) related to suicide prevention. Posts will relate to:
Factors associated with suicidal ideation (exp., stress, anxiety, depression, grief) and ways to address these concerns from wellness and Biblical perspective.
Help for people interested in "standing in the gap" with the person in crisis until professional service is available.
Help for family and friends--suicide survivors--who must carry on despite the pain and suffering they feel after their loved one(s) die by suicide. Yes, some people have survived multiple family suicides. You will hear directly from them.
We believe that our prayers and interventions will be effective. We believe the sick will be healed, and the brokenhearted will be comforted. We believe that with God, all things are possible, even saving lives from the free will choice of suicide. We believe the "medicine chest" is the Holy Spirit that resides within each Believer. We believe in miracles and expect to see them in saved lives in 2022-2023. In Jesus' name. Amen.