September 6, 2019. This year, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), selected “Suicide Prevention” as the theme for this year’s observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.
Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. Suicide is a prominent community concern in Belize with the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health reporting 31 deaths by suicide in 2018. Globally, it is responsible for over 800,000 deaths.
The Mental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health will be raising Suicide Prevention flags across the country on September 9th, 2019. In Belize City, the Ministry will partner with Wesley High School to host a short ceremony and raise the Suicide Prevention Flag on the school grounds in the presence of faculty and students of that high school. The Ministry has made a decision to rotate the flag amongst the high schools in Belize City to appeal to the adolescent population which is the population group with the most suicide attempts.
The health regions across the country will also conduct similar activities in commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day that include educational talks, media campaigns and public speeches in several communities. The aim of the awareness activities is to promote conversation around mental wellbeing, seeking help and recognizing the first signs of suicidal behavior or mental ill-health in a loved one.
It is important to recognize that people of all ages have ups and downs and may think about suicide. The Ministry of Health, therefore, continues to encourage partnership with other sectors to raise awareness and encourage conversations around mental wellbeing.
“World Suicide Prevention Day provides an opportunity for each and every one of us to share our grief about those we have lost to suicide, speak about how we’re feeling and also share the responsibility of preventing suicide,” said Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health. “Remember, you don’t need to be a doctor or a nurse to check-in with someone you are worried about – just a good friend and a great listener.”
If you feel that it is difficult to speak to someone who you suspect is thinking about suicide, encourage them to connect with a trusted friend, family member, counselor or a health professional.