The Suicide Prevention Week campaign is dedicated to suicide prevention and public awareness of this issue, which is undoubtedly so sensitive. Annually, the number of suicides surpasses the 1 million mark worldwide.

Most of the time, the act of taking one's own life can be the result of a series of internal conflicts, developed over the years. Some of the factors that can lead to suicidal behavior are strongly linked to mental disorders such as severe depression, bipolarity, or schizophrenia. Other factors are family problems, low socioeconomic status, negative situations during pregnancy, and substance abuse.

Suicidal thinking leads the individual to believe that by taking his own life, he will be finding the solution to his problems and freeing himself from all pain and suffering, not only himself but also the people around him, when in fact, it is the opposite.

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World Day for the Prevention of Suicide

September 10th is World Day for the Prevention of Suicide. the American Yellow Ribbon program was founded in 1994 by the parents and friends of Mike Emme, who took his life when he didn't know what to say or how to let someone know he was in trouble and needed help.

“Don’t blame yourselves, Mom and Dad, I love you.” It was signed, “Love, Mike 11:45 pm”. At 11:52 pm his parents pulled into the driveway behind that bright yellow Mustang, – seven minutes too late."

The legacy began when Mike rescued a 1968 Ford Mustang from an abandoned field. He bought it, rebuilt it (as he did others), and painted it bright yellow. As Mike, with his mustangs, became more and more known for his mechanical skills and for helping other teenagers and friends, he became known as "Mustang Mike".

After the tragedy, as friends gathered to comfort family and each other, Mike's mother talked to the teenagers about creating memories that other people could remember him with, and they decided that yellow would be used in tribute to his dear yellow mustang.

When the teenagers asked Mike's mother how they could help, she said: "If you are at this point of pain/despair, please ask for help! Don't do this, don't attempt suicide." The children took notes and cards were made with the message "It's OK to Ask4Help" The night before Mike's funeral, his friends shared their pain and tears as they nailed 500 ribbons to cards. They were placed in a basket where Mike was to be veiled.

The ribbon became the symbol of the show when the teenagers began tying it in their hair and tucking it into their clothes and hats the day Mike died. The yellow was used in memory of Mike and his beloved '68 Yellow Mustang, and how he helped so many people. The heart in the middle of the ribbon is the symbol of the survivors. Our voices will speak for those who cannot.

Cases of depression in the pandemic

In surveys conducted with more than 80,000 young people around the world, it could be seen that the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms during COVID-19 doubled, compared to pre-pandemic estimates. The survey was published in JAMA Pediatrics, and according to its results, moderator analyses revealed that prevalence rates were higher when collected later in the pandemic, in older adolescents, and girls.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of clinically significant generalized anxiety and depressive symptoms in large cohorts of youth were approximately 11.6% and 12.9%, respectively. Since COVID-19 was declared an international public health emergency, young people around the world have experienced dramatic disruptions in their daily lives.

Young people are facing widespread social isolation and missed milestones, along with school closings, quarantine orders, increased family stress, and decreased interactions with friends and love relationships, all potential precipitants of psychological distress and mental health difficulties in youth.

The fact is that not only the youngest, but the entire population, can suffer from this pandemic period. People, in general, can develop problems that were previously hatched, and the pandemic can trigger a series of events to unfold.

Regarding the effects of the pandemic in the most diverse age groups, Renato Oliveira e Souza, head of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at PAHO, says that "It's not known exactly how rising depression, domestic violence, and substance use will affect suicide rates, but it's important to talk about it, support each other in these pandemic times, and know the warning signs of suicide to help prevent it."

"Cancellations" during the pandemic

Currently, the term "cancel" has become popular on the internet, being used when it comes to judging someone, especially for some attitude that is not well regarded by others.

During the pandemic, the number of "canceled" and "cancellers" has increased significantly, and one of the causes of these cancellations is the fact that some people do not respect social isolation.

However, it is important to know that a lot of fake news has spread in the virtual world, and that is where the danger lies: among the false news may be the sharing of old photos, which imply they are current; this suggests that such a person who attended a party in 2019, for example, was breaking the quarantine protocols, when in fact he was a victim of fake news.

It is important to know that spreading fake news, not only about social isolation but about any other issue, can bring such discomfort to an individual that he or she may be driven to take his own life. The act of judging anyone for their actions seems something simple and normal, but we should not normalize attitudes that can hurt the feelings of a human being, leading to depression, often with no return. Sharing intimate photos of a person without their consent can also embarrass them and shake their psyche, thus bringing enormous consequences, in addition to being considered a crime.

Depression can be prevented by cultivating healthy habits and thoughts, in addition to having positive social and emotional relationships. In most cases, it is possible to treat depression effectively, improving the individual's quality of life and preventing the most drastic outcomes, such as the worst of them: suicide.

Sources: Yellow Ribbon | JAMA Pediatrics