From September 10th through October 10th, TELL will hold a series of events to mark World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) and World Mental Health Day (WMHD). Our focus this September is on youths and the challenges of the last few years. Around the globe, the number of young people feeling overwhelmed by the difficulties of COVID, climate change, and the pressures of school have increased significantly. Here in Japan, as people return from their summer vacations and school starts up again, many young people find this a particularly challenging time. Last year, 473 young people died by suicide, with the highest number in the first week of September. More worrying is research which suggests that, globally, for every suicide, there are another 20 plus attempts, and 100 plus people are impacted by each suicide.
Better education and discussions about mental illness in schools, the community, and the workplace is urgently needed. Mental illnesses are treatable, and preventing suicides is possible; with support, individuals do recover and lead full, active, and productive lives. It is also vital to listen to the lived experiences of those with mental illnesses, as they have invaluable insight and information about what works, what does not, and what the barriers are.
This year’s WSPD theme is Creating Hope Through Action. Each one of us can play an important role in the prevention of suicide and in creating hope for those who are struggling. You can take up the Step Up Challenge as an individual or team in a school, workplace, or community. You can raise funds, hand out information about warning signs all over the country, and give out the Lifeline number and chat information. If you are in Tokyo, you can take on the Tower Climb Challenge on October 1st for corporates and on October 2nd for schools, the general public, and community groups.
To kick things off, on Saturday, Sept 10th, starting at 18:30 from the TELL office in Minami-Aoyama, we will walk to Yoyogi Koen, where we will light a candle at 20:00 in remembrance of those who lost their battle with mental illness. Anyone is welcome to join us and remember someone you have lost.
There are many other things that you can do, such as educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs, undertake mental health training in your workplace, university, or school, volunteer on a Lifeline, or start a conversation with someone you are worried about. Working together, zeros suicides are possible. Are you willing to help save a life?
If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to the Lifeline, we are there for you every day of the year. You can call 03 5774 0992 or chat with us. Please check our website for further details and times.