This day marks the start of World Suicide Prevention Week, a week dedicated to a topic that, for many years, has been considered unsuitable for public discussion,, Leah Fleming writes.

As many as you probably know, today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Statuses encouraging people to wear yellow and draw the word “Love” on their wrists have taken over Facebook, #SuicideAwarenessDay is a trending topic on Twitter.

Suicide is an issue that affects the entire world, with one person killing themselves roughly every 40 seconds. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and To Write Love On Her Arms, along with many others throughout the world, are coming together this week to help combat these figures, and begin to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide each year. 

There are many events going on this week, to help raise awareness of this massive issue. Today, people everywhere write “Love” across their wrists to show support of the cause. However, this week is not just all about awareness. National Suicide Prevention Week also aims to improve the help available to those with suicidal thoughts, through work with the World Health Organisation. New programmes have been planned and are being implemented to help those who find themselves in such a situation.

This week also asks people to start thinking differently. The stigma that is undeniably attached to mental health problems in Ireland deters many people from seeking treatment for issues. By starting to remove this stigma, organisations hope that more and more people will begin to seek the help they need, without feeling ashamed. And honestly, such a stigma should not exist at all. Mental health is real. If your throat is hurting you, you go to the doctor. Who’s to say it should be any different if it’s your mind that’s hurting you?

So, what can you do to help? Well, the key to preventing suicide is talking. If you suspect someone you know is going through a difficult time, talk to them about it. Be a shoulder to lean on, listen to what they have to say. Help them. Don’t presume. Talk to everyone you know. The people who seem to be falling apart, the people who seem okay, even the people who assure you that they’re totally on top of everything. Let them know they are not alone. You never know what someone’s really going through unless you ask.

If you think that you, or someone you know is effected by depression or having suicidal thoughts, please visit http://www.aware.ie/ or http://www.suicideprevention.ie/. Don’t hesitate. Help is out there.