Take forty seconds to reach out to someone and show you care

October 7th, 2019

My Internal World backs World Mental Health Day.

Forty seconds. Every forty seconds in the world, someone commits suicide.

That's the shocking statistic that is being highlighted by this year's World Mental Health Day on October 10.

World Mental Health Day is held annually and this year's theme is all about the very serious topic of suicide prevention.

The World Health Organisation, which recognises World Mental Health Day each year, wants to highlight the 40 second statistic with a range of ideas and initiatives designed to raise awareness of the horror of suicide.

In doing so, they aim to literally save lives - and, here at My Internal World, we back them to the hilt.

There is no doubt that mental health has risen far higher on the health agenda in recent years than it has done in the past, but the figures around suicide are still shocking...

  • Almost 800,000 lives are lost to suicide each year
  • Someone commits suicide every 40 seconds
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15-29 year-olds

(figures: World Health Organisation)

So what can we all do to reach out to those for whom life has got very, very black?

It's easy to think that because those of us who are lucky enough not to suffer with our mental health cannot imagine what it's like for those who do, that there's nothing you can therefore do to help.

But that is very far from being the case. The World Health Organisation has put together a very sensible, practical list of suggestions as to how we can all do our bit to try and reduce suicide. Here are their suggestions, all themed around the 40 seconds that is all the time that elapses between someone, somewhere in the world, taking their own life, and someone else, somewhere else, doing the same.

Here are some of the things that the World Health Organisation is suggesting we can do to mark this year's World Mental Health Day...

  1. If you are struggling yourself, take 40 seconds to try and kick-start a conversation with someone you trust.
  2. If you know someone who has lost someone they loved to suicide, take 40 seconds to start a conversation to ask them how they are doing.
  3. If you work in the media, highlight the 40 second statistics in interviews, articles and blog posts.
  4. If you work in the arts, interrupt your production or broadcast to transmit a 40 second message about mental health or preventing suicide.
  5. If you are an employer or manager, take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to employees about resources available to them in the workplace or community in times of mental distress.
  6. If you want your leaders to hear your request for action, record a 40-second audio clip or video telling them the action you want them to take on suicide prevention and mental health.
  7. If you have a platform for communicating with a large audience, provide 40-second slots for sharing mental health stories and messages.
  8. If you hold political office, communicate publicly about action you are taking to promote mental health and prevent suicide, highlighting the 40 second statistic.

These are all simple, practical suggestions which are all aimed at one thing - awareness.

It is not our job here at My Internal World to provide diagnosis and advice to those who are suffering with clinical depression and having suicidal thoughts. That's a job for professional, highly qualified and experienced health clinicians.

But the message of this year's World Mental Health Day is not that. The message is that we can all do our bit to help with suicide prevention by reaching out to those who are suffering and, by doing so, help to lift the stigma around those whose world has got so bleak they no longer want to be a part of it.

It's not about claiming to understand, it's about listening, and helping to reduce the loneliness in the world. And that can take as little time as a mere forty seconds.

Here at My Internal World we are all about helping everyone understand a bit more about what is making them tick inside their heads. We aim to provide gentle, practical advice to help us all achieve a bit more calmness and relaxation so that we are better emotionally equipped for our busy lives.

A lot of it is about being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves space.

This year, with its theme of suicide prevention, the theme of World Mental Health Day is really, at its heart, about beaming out that kindness which is the way we try to treat ourselves, to be kind to others.

That's all. Just be kind. Listen. Take those 40 seconds. It may help save lives.