The bad news is that Japan has one of the world’s highest reported rates of suicide. The good news is that recent efforts to reduce the death toll have been successful: 23,971 people took their own lives in Japan last year, a reduction of 1,456 from 2014, and the sixth straight annual decline.
World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th seeks to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. For the past several years, Japan-based mental health non-profit TELL has organized walks that offer participants a chance to connect with others and to remember lives that have been lost.
The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2016 is “Connect, Communicate, Care”. Research has shown that positive relationships–with family members, teachers, co-workers, community organizations and social institutions–can help increase a person’s sense of belonging, foster a sense of personal worth, and provide access to sources of support.
“Open communication is vital if we are to combat suicide,” says Vickie Skorji, Director of TELL Lifeline, an English-language crisis hotline founded in 1973 to provide crisis and suicide prevention support for the international community in Japan. “In many communities, suicide is shrouded in silence or spoken of only in hushed tones. We need to discuss suicide as we would any other public health issue if we are to dispel myths about it and reduce the stigma surrounding it. We can all help by staying connected to one another, and by listening when our friends, relatives and colleagues want to talk. On September 10th, we’re inviting people who understand and support the need for mental health services in Japan to walk for TELL and help raise important funds to help take our Lifeline 24/7.”
For details on how to organize a World Suicide Prevention Day walk, or join one that someone else is organizing, see the TELL website.