World Mental Health Day is observed annually on 10 October. The theme for 2019 is suicide prevention and awareness.
The day was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. The federation is a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), someone loses their life to suicide, somewhere in the world every 40 seconds. The United Nations (UN) revealed that 800 000 people die from suicide every year.
Statistics also revealed that one adult in four, and one child in ten would be diagnosed with a mental health issue every year. The WHO urged people to commemorate “40 seconds of action” to raise awareness about suicide around the world.
They also wished for participants to emphasize the roles that each person can play to help prevent suicide.
The overall objective of the day is to raise awareness on mental health issues around the world. The day is also observed to help mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
Organisations that work with such issues have an opportunity to highlight their work. They also have a platform to express what more could be done to “make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”
South Africa is said to have the eighth highest suicide rate in the world. The country has an estimated suicide rate of 13.4 people per 100 000.
It is said to be approximately four times the global rate of 3.6 per 100 000. However, “if strategies are in place to identify and manage the risk in the early stages,” most of these deaths could be avoided, according to Doctor Kobus Roux.
Roux is a psychiatrist and a member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP). The doctor shared that in South Africa, private and public healthcare sectors “grossly fail” their users.
The healthcare sectors failed to provide follow-ups and ongoing treatment for high-risk patients who have attempted or threatened suicide. This phase of treatment is considered critical in most healthcare systems to help reduce suicide rates.
“Ongoing therapeutic contact with high risk patients is a very important strategy in suicide prevention. It needs to be implemented into the South African healthcare system and the proposals for National Health Insurance.”
Several organisations and companies will be commemorating the day with various events across the world. The colour yellow has been chosen by some organisations to show support to those who are suffering with mental health.
For people who need to reach out for help one of the country’s most dedicated suicide helpline and organisations is the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG).