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Culture

15th Annual (Invisible) World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day! From the International Association for Suicide Prevention brochure:

2017 marks the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day. The day was first recognised in 2003, as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization. World Suicide Prevention Day takes place each year on September 10.

Oh, you didn’t know that? That’s hardly surprising. These days–as I have written previously–suicide prevention campaigns are pretty much invisible.

Why is that? Instead of focusing on prevention, the greater media energy and public discourse emotional intensity goes toward suicide promotion.

Think about Brittany Maynard. She became world famous only because she promoted and committed assisted suicide. Who hasn’t seen the photo of her smiling beautifully with the puppy?

Think about the positive media depictions of joint elderly euthanasia and suicide deaths.

Think also about the glowing media stories about assisted suicide parties and euthanasia going away parties, including a very long front-pager in the New York Times.

I believe that all of this (assisted) suicide celebrating is normalizing suicide more generally, or at least, removing the stigma. That can cost lives.

So, how do suicide prevention campaigns confront assisted suicide promotion? They generally don’t. Most ignore the issue, perhaps afraid of controversy. From what I can tell, that failure of nerve continues with World Suicide Prevention Day.

Yet, serious health issues are a known risk factor for suicide. But some prevention efforts have stopped listing serious illness in, for example at the NHS. 

With all of that is going on promoting some suicides–while at the same time, not going on to prevent all suicides–no wonder prevention campaigns fade into the wallpaper.

 

 

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