So Mental Health Day has come and gone, did you do anything in particular to take care of your mental health this month? 

Frey:  Personally, I started CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) again and took extra time at the gym to swim, which is my mental health space and where I rest and recuperate mentally.

Connie: And you make it clear when you were feeling busy so that you wouldn’t be overwhelmed. So you were able to say “no”/“not right now”

Frey: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Jess: No not really, I took time when I needed to and didn’t go to school if I was too unwell, but nothing extra special.  

Em: Well I’m not sure I did anything specific this month. I’ve been going to the gym a lot and playing more video games because it helps me unwind after work. I started “inktober” but then I stopped because I felt like it was too much to add to my regular schedule and it made me miserable.

Bri: Even if I had many assignments at my uni, I didn’t let them take over my life and let me not enjoy doing a few of the things I wanted to do for fun. I basically made sure to take breaks 

Matt: I haven’t done anything different too be honest to take of my mental health during last month. I think I challenged myself to go farther even. When I felt overwhelmed I forced myself to accomplish at least one more task on the list. To push my boundaries. Which I think will help in the long run!

Do you feel that this years world Mental Health Day topic is particularly important this year?

Em: I’m not sure suicide prevention is particularly important just THIS year, but I do think it’s important in general.

Bri: Every year the need for mental health awareness and suicide prevention grows stronger, since the world is advancing in technology and making it easier for online bullying and for people to get caught up on social media, rather than reality. Promoting good mental health could help prevent negativity online and in real life while encouraging others to step away from what we are constantly absorbing online.

Em: But I also think it gets a lot of awareness already, and maybe it would be nice to shine a light on less known issues in the future. I feel like we hear a lot about depression, anxiety and suicide lately, and yes these are incredibly important, but other mental health problems are important too and we don’t hear as much about them.

Connie: like what? 

Em: Bipolar disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, disorders like schizophrenia, etc… I feel like some of those are still quite taboo. And things like dealing with trauma

Connie: Interesting point, I think that’s something to work on too. I’d love to ask more people to write about their experiences and some of the less ‘popularised’ mental illnesses

Bri: Also, recently there have been negative, baseless comments made by powerful national figures about people with declining mental health and disorders. So its important to make it known that those comments were not based on truth and that those with poor mental health are humans like all of us, not monsters.

Do you feel suicide is an issue in your country?

Matt: I think suicide is definitely an issue here in America. It’s hard to know much about without researching but I think yes it is a problem absolutely.

Bri: Suicide is not only an issue in America, but everywhere else in the world. However, I feel like in America, suicide is one thing that we mourn for a day and then let it go. When someone takes his life, we tend to feel sad and maybe write a dedication in the newspaper or have a TV news crew come and do a short headline on the story. But when tomorrow comes, nothing is addressed and there is no discussion of a solution. Suicide is actually mocked in my instances and blamed on the person having “serious mental issues.” There isn’t a lot of compassion or understanding. But as for the number of how many people do commit suicide in America, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2017 there were 47, 713 suicides along with an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts. Seeing these numbers is shocking, as even just one suicide is sad to hear. But these numbers put into perspective how much more common suicide is than we may think. So, when America mourns a suicide for a day and moves on the next like it never happened, imagine this with 47,713 people. I will confidently say that suicide is a issue, both in the actual act and in the way its received.   

Connie: You’re absolutely right. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. And suicide is the highest cause of death among 15-29 year-old’s globally. In the UK where I am from, suicides are increasing overall, but men are increasingly attempting suicide. And South Korea, where I live, has the highest suicide rate in the world. Even recently, there have been headlines and new’s stories about the death of a Korean celebrity.

Em: For Canada, I think it is an issue but also I think its not as bad as in other countries. Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Canada, and Canada is the 72nd country with most suicides per capita. That doesn’t seem too bad to me. I mean, the fact that people commit suicide at all is an issue. This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen in an ideal world. But compared to other countries, I guess its a smaller issue here.

Jess: Suicide in Singapore, its more like a stigma still because nobody ever talks about it. I tried googling about it but there’s only like 1 known article about it. Which was in 2007/2008. I think there is still a stigma in my country. We need to talk about it more openly rather than just say it on the news. Even though it’s talked about online by netizens it’s still some sort of thing that people think is alright to talk about it as if it’s nothing or as if they aren’t related to the person or they don’t care which is worse. I can’t find anything about suicide in Singapore. There’s nothing about it online minus Facebook Which is just things I don’t like to listen or talk about it.

Connie: Well that in itself is interesting ’cause there’s a lack of immediate information about it. Can you even find information about who to contact or what to do if you’re feeling suicidal?

Jess: I asked my friend about it. She said the hotline doesn’t even talk to you about anything related to suicidal thoughts. Which is weird.

Connie: oh man that’s not good…

Jess: yeah

What is included as part of suicide prevention? What can we practically do to prevent suicide?

Em: I think suicide prevention is everything that can help prevent suicide. Of course talking about it, removing the stigma around it, making sure  there are ressources available to help those thinking about committing suicide, but it’s also about making sure people don’t want to kill themselves in the first place. Being kind to people, not bullying, not making people feel like they are alone or like they have nothing to live for, listening, helping when we see people we know are struggling.

Connie: yeah, absolutely.

Em: But we should also teach people to express their emotions more, especially feelings of sadness, struggling, anger, etc. Teach people to reach for help when they need it. Because a lot of people don’t share for fear of burdening people. I think most people don’t know how to deal with or help someone who wants to commit suicide. We aren’t good at crisis management. But what most people can do, however, is making sure people don’t develop suicidal feelings and thoughts. Just by being decent human beings. It doesn’t fix everything, but i sure think it helps.

Matt: I think being a decent human being to others, like literally just being a grown ass adult and not spreading any kind of unnecessary negativity is huge in that process. If we’re breeding negative emotion and behavior of course it’s going to be easier and easier to see suicide as a good option for escape for ourselves or for those around us. We should be encouraging people and lifting them up and supporting them not tearing them down or being rude. Young people will follow our example and so we have the power to change that mindset for younger generations moving forward. When I was a kid there was no anti bullying campaigns there was no warnings against watching what you say. It was said like once at an annual assembly instead of a message that was consistently preached. I don’t know, I think suicide is a big problem in high schools and in celebrities. of course it happens in other demographics. But treating EVERYONE like they are just like us, humans who are also insecure and just trying to figure out life and what to do and how do enjoy it to the fullest is the absolute biggest step in that side of prevention.

Bri: Suicide prevention encompasses acknowledging that others can be going through difficult times, periods of isolation, sadness, etc. It means that we work together to raise awareness, understand, prevent, and help provide counseling and lend a helping hand to the world and those struggling. It’s important to recognize signs of suicidal thoughts in others before action is taken. So, we should all take time to do some research into mental illnesses and their signs and symptoms so that we can catch someone on a suicidal path. We need to pay attention to those around us and if something feels off about someone’s behavior or thoughts, we should be educated and ready to step in to talk to them and help them leave the suicidal thoughts. 

Jess: A few things I would think about is subbing in a few days a month to just not think about anything else and just do what I want to do. Like maybe go boxing the whole day or just don’t even go online for social media or a detox from your phone like can you for hours without a phone or laptop.

This year, the World Health Organisation released the statistic that 1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, that’s around 800,000 deaths a year! That’s more deaths from suicide than from war and homicide put together. How does that make you feel? 

Bri: One person taking his/her life is a tragedy. It could mean so many things: they were going through a hard time, they gave up on life, they felt empty inside, and so much more. Being unable to have helped that person is hard to think about. They struggled and nothing or no one was able to stop them. This happening to 800,000 a year is impossible to fathom. There were 800,000 people struggling an incredible amount, and there will be 800,000 more in the next year. Each life is important, and everyone has something special in them. But 800,000 of these lives felt suicide was the only option. I only wish that I had known these people in order to help them and eliminate such a tragic statistic. 

Matt: That’s absolutely horrid that 800,000 people take their own lives a year it breaks my heart for sure. I hate it. Literally hate it.

Em: It makes me think we have some work to do all over the world. Everyone. Society, government, companies, etc. Because it shouldn’t be that high. But a lot of countries lack proper resources to deal with suicide and mental health in general. I think all deaths are important and should try to be like, not avoided, cause we all die, but maybe delayed or ideally of natural causes like old age or something. Like we should do everything to prevent deaths by accident, war, disease, homicide, suicide, etc. But we should work on those equally. What I think this statistic might show is that we are better at reducing or preventing deaths by war and homicide than deaths by suicide. 1 person every 40 seconds is outrageous. But its outrageous in itself, no need for comparison with war and homicide.

Connie: I kind of agree with you Emile, but I also think that the comparison is to spark the same outrage and sadness that people have towards homicide or war. I think that because suicide is self-inflicted, until its personally experienced or a death by suicide effects you, people can easily ignore it as a ‘problem’ that they can ignore. It’s less thought about and discussed as a human crisis or tragedy. For me, the thought of a death every 40 seconds shook me to my core. That an unfathomable number to me. I think with a statistic like that, we should be doing so much more to prevent suicide and to treat mental illness.

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