Every year, organisations and communities around the world come together on 10th September to commemorate the World Suicide Prevention Day and to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die of suicide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1408 people in Kenya commit suicide yearly, or simply put, four deaths daily. Majority of them are aged between 15-29 with suicide being the second leading cause of death for this age group.
Deaths from suicide deal a devastating blow to families, friends, and communities. As numbers continue to increase and more are affected by this silent pandemic, it is vital we open the conversation about how we can work together to prevent it.
Suicide can arise from a complex mix of different elements such as biological factors, psychological factors, past history and coping with current life events. What is undeniable is the clear link between suicide and mental health.
Suicide is not inevitable, but it is preventable and one way we can prevent it from happening is by staying mentally healthy and this involves the following:
- Extending a helping hand make other people happy and will make you feel happier too.
- Share your skills by thinking of skills you have that can help others, offer support, check on those around you such as elderly neighbours and see if they need help. This will also help you have a sense of purpose.
- Ask friends, family or work colleagues how they are and listen without judgment.
The people around you offer a valuable pool of support therefore it’s important to put time into strengthening those connections.This is even more important now in the times we are living in and this can be achieved by doing the following:
- Meet up with someone you haven’t seen in awhile and this is easier now that lockdown restrictions are easing all over the world however, remember to follow guidelines to keep yourself and others safe.
- If you are unable to meet family and friends in person, you can make use of technology and apps such as Zoom and Houseparty to connect socially. You can play some games, join a Zumba class or simply connect!
- Turn off distractions to make time to speak with family and/or friends. You also need to recognise support networks may not always be the people closest to you.
Regular physical activity will help provide you with an endorphin boost since exercise produces endorphins. Research shows that endorphins help us produce positive feelings and this can be done by:
- Finding an activity that suits you and your schedule such as walking, jogging, running, yoga, swimming, cycling, cardio and weight training
- Swap the car on short journeys, if you live close to work, you can walk or cycle.
Trying out new things
Learning new things is stimulating and can help lift your mood. This can be done,
- Take on a new role at work or school
- Try a new hobby, club or activity that interests you.
Working towards positive and realistic goals help provide motivation structure and have a positive outlook about life.
- Choose a goal that is meaningful to you, not what someone else expects of you.
- Remember to celebrate progress along the way.
We can’t always choose what happens to us but we can choose our own response to what happens.
- Find an outlet like talking to friends, writing things down or an activity you enjoy.
- Take action to improve your resilience skills.
Positive emotions can build a buffer against stress and lead to lasting changes in the brain to help maintain wellbeing.
- Practice gratitude by taking time to notice what you’re grateful for, focus on the good aspects of any situation and appreciate the positive aspects of your life.
- Set aside time to enjoy yourself and take care of you emotional wellbeing.
- We also need to recognise there are times we need to take time out (self-care) to heal and recover
No one is perfect and longing to be someone different gets in the way of making the most of our own happiness.
- Be kind to yourself when things go wrong.
- Shift the focus away from what you don’t have and can’t do, to what you have and can do.
- Pay attention to how we feel about ourselves and our lives/the future.
People who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety and depression. Hope offers a point of reference and sometimes we just need to simply believe.
- Prioritise the activities, people and beliefs that bring you the strongest sense of purpose for example spirituality, prayer and reading the word of God.
- Volunteer for a cause, be part of a team and notice how your actions make a difference for others
Yvonne Okiyo is a qualified Mental Health First Aider with Mental Health England and Suicide First Aider. She is also a certified Nutritionist and Online Wellness Coach. She is passionate about mind body and spirit and this is what she preaches on her platform. She can be found on-https://www.instagram.com/naturally_fitlondon/?hl=en