Dear Annie: Today, people throughout the world will observe World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual event co-sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Approximately 1 million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. These figures do not include suicide attempts, which may be up to 20 times the number of deaths.
The economic costs associated with self-inflicted death or injuries are estimated to be in the billions of dollars a year. The psychological and social impact of suicide on the family and community is staggering.
There is good news, though. Organizations across the globe such as ours are making advances in suicide prevention research, understanding and outreach. Despite the complexity of this phenomenon, suicide can be prevented. There are many crisis centers throughout the world that offer support by phone, email, forums and chat.
Suicide prevention organizations, locally and across the world, are joining IASP in encouraging people to “light a candle near a window at 8 p.m.” on World Suicide Prevention Day — Monday, Sept. 10 — to show support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide.
Please ask your readers for their kind support in lighting a candle and, if they are in distress, to call a helpline or crisis center. This information can be found on our website at www.iasp.info. Thank you. — Lanny Berman, Ph.D., ABPP, President, International Association for Suicide Prevention
Dear Dr. Berman: We appreciate the opportunity to tell our readers about World Suicide Prevention Day. We hope they will light a candle near a window (although please not near flammable drapes or blinds) and remember those who have died. We also hope those in need will check your website.
Dear Annie: I have been invited to the wedding of my co-worker’s daughter, whom I have never met. My co-worker has made it quite clear that he is expecting us to attend. At his first daughter’s wedding, he invited 20 co-workers and only one showed up. He was very upset.
Am I obligated to attend? — RSVP
Dear RSVP: You are not obligated to attend, although you might want to weigh that choice against Monday’s reaction at the office. While we don’t care for co-workers who pressure others to attend their personal events, consider whether he wants your presence or your presents. If you would feel more comfortable, send a small gift with your regrets.