The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that someone takes their own life every 40 seconds. That’s about 800,000 to 1 million people worldwide every year. Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29. Each person who takes his or her own life, leaves behind grieving spouses, friends, siblings or other family members, colleagues and/or classmates. For every person who succeeds is taking their own life, there are 25 others who have made unsuccessful attempts. Severe depression leading to suicide is often untreated, due to the stigma of mental illness resulting in many people refusing to seek help. This year’s theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide” and will continue to be the theme for 2020. Each of us can do something to lessen the risk. First, know the warning signs. Encourage those who exhibit signs of depression to seek and receive professional help. Work to eradicate the stigma of mental illness, so that those in need are not ashamed to get help. Address bullying that can significantly contribute to hopelessness. Seek help for anyone who has suffered a catastrophic loss if they seem to be unable to function in their daily activities. Seek help immediately if anyone expresses thoughts of suicide—take this warning seriously. Most of all, be a loving a supportive presence.
Holy One, we pray for all lonely, hopeless and suffering people who feel that they have no way out except suicide. Give them the courage to seek help. Surround them with the love and care that they need to begin their healing journey. Open our hearts so that we may recognize and respond to those in need of our love, support and assistance. Bless the caregivers who work to restore hope and well-being. Bless those families who have lost loved ones to suicide. May they be comforted in their sorrow.