4 reasons not to commit suicide, according to Dr Jordan Peterson

“I plan on taking my own life very soon. Why shouldn’t I?”

The room fell into a deafening silence; the audience waited with baited breath for Dr Peterson’s response. “I don’t know if I should address it,” Dr Peterson began, continuing: “but I’ll give it a shot (it’s important) because it’s very serious.”

Dr Peterson answered the question, sharing four reasons for the questioner to keep on living. I particularly found number four to shift my perspective on who I am and who owns my life. Here are Dr Peterson’s four reasons.

Number 1: “You’ll devastate the people you leave behind”

“Think about how everyone you know will react to your death: your family members, your friends, what would their life be like with you not in it?” Dr Peterson, asked. “You may just absolutely wipe them out in a way they may never recover from. You cannot fix someone’s suicide. You’re stuck with it.” He continued: “What if they blame themselves? They could go their entire lives blaming themselves for not just any death, your death; the death of someone they love dearly.

“I’ve had clients in my clinical practice that have never recovered from the suicide of a family member. Decades later they’re still torturing themselves about it.” “By ending your own life, you might just be ending someone else’s. You’ll simply be offloading the pain you’re experiencing to everyone you love. Is that what you want?”

Number 2: “You owe it to yourself — and to your family — to look at every possible alternative.”

The second reason is that you probably haven’t explored all possible solutions to the problems you’re facing. Imagine if you end your life, and there was a solution right around the corner. This is a possibility. “There are all sorts of treatments for depression,” Dr Peterson said “You owe it to yourself — and to your family — to look at every possible alternative.

“Explore any possible avenue before you take a final step … explore everything you can explore to put yourself back on your feet.” “Talk to a psychologist. Talk to a therapist. Try antidepressants. Keep yourself busy. Adopt a puppy if you have to. Try literally anything. “For some people, antidepressants work. They don’t work for everyone. I’m not claiming they are a panacea, but they certainly beat the hell out of suicide.”

Number 3: “Don’t underestimate your value in the world”

The third reason is you’ll put a stop to all your potential. As Dr Peterson puts it: “you have intrinsic value and you can’t just casually bring that to an end. You’ll put a hole in the fabric of being itself.” He continued: “People with depression often struggle to find meaning in their lives. They don’t think anyone needs them or cares about them. This almost always isn’t true. Don’t underestimate your value in the world,” Dr Peterson said.

“Just because you can’t see your potential, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Everyone has something to contribute, even if they don’t know it. You can always commit suicide tomorrow. Today, you have things to do. The world needs you even if you don’t need it.”

Number 4: “Don’t be so sure your life is yours to take”

The fourth and final reason I found particularly moving. He says that maybe your life doesn’t belong to you. “Don’t be so sure your life is yours to take. You don’t own yourself the way you own an object. “If you’re religious, maybe your life belongs to a higher power. Or if you’re not religious, maybe it belongs to your loved ones or some greater cause.” In true Peterson fashion, he takes the religious option: “you have a moral obligation to yourself as a locus of divine value.”

Chad, the man who asked the question, later reached out to Peterson on Twitter. Here’s what he said:

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Many people question the integrity of Dr Peterson. We even recently published an article asking whether Dr Peterson is the philosopher of the fake news era. It must be noted, however, that Dr Peterson showed great courage and fortitude in answering Chad’s question. He provided four compelling reasons why someone who is considering suicide should choose life instead.

Personally, I found the fourth reason to be incredibly thought provoking. “Don’t be so sure your life is yours to take,” he said. This made me think about the actions I carry out during my lifetime. As a child of Western civilization, I’ve grown up being encouraged to express my individuality and to be pursue my own goals and dreams. However, embracing the idea that I don’t own my own life changes the moral justification of selfish behavior.

Perhaps I carry out my actions not just for myself, but also for my family, loved ones, community, society and even more broadly the planet itself. Perhaps I matter to the extent that I’m helping others around me to live a more meaningful life. Dr Peterson’s response clearly had an impact on the questioner who was contemplating suicide. It’s also had a huge impact on me.

I want to live the best life I possibly can for the Dr Peterson has identified: for my family, to realize my potential and to give myself to a cause greater than myself. Here’s Dr Peterson’s response in full. I hope it also has a positive impact on you.

DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants

Image: DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants

In many ways the world is a far more complex, difficult place to live in now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Social media places children under increasing pressure – and at an ever decreasing age – to look perfect, have limitless “friends” and lead apparently perfect lives. Many parents work longer hours than in previous decades, leaving them with little time and energy to spend with their kids. And children are under immense pressure to perform academically and on the sports field.

In previous years, kids could generally be found playing outside with their friends or chatting to them on the phone, but modern society leaves children isolated from one another, spending more time with virtual “friends” than real-life ones. Many spend most of their time online, hardly ever venturing outside.

This toxic mix of external pressures and isolation can leave children, particularly those struggling through adolescence, feeling depressed and confused. The solution for many parents and healthcare professionals is to simply prescribe them antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This “solution” is so widely favored, in fact, that a disturbing report by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights found that around 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed these dangerous drugs.

Antidepressant use in children rises sharply in seven years

Antidepressant medications are, in fact, not recommended for children under the age of 18, but you would never know that if you were to judge by the way doctors hand out prescriptions for these drugs like candy.

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According to the Daily Mail, a study recently published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, which studied antidepressant use in children under the age of 18 in five western countries, found that there was an alarming increase in the number of prescriptions for these drugs between 2005 and 2012.

In Denmark, prescriptions for children increased by 60 percent; prescription numbers soared more than 54 percent in the United Kingdom; in Germany, they rose by 49 percent; the United States saw a 26 percent increase; and there was a 17 percent increase in antidepressant prescriptions for children in the Netherlands during that period.

This is shocking because a 2016 study published in the respected British Medical Journal, which evaluated the mental health of 18,500 children prescribed antidepressant medications, found that not only are the benefits of these drugs “below what is clinically relevant” (i.e. they don’t work), but children taking them are twice as likely to exhibit suicidal or aggressive behaviors than children who do not.

The study also found that the drug manufacturers are not only aware of this fact but that they actively try to hide the risks by labeling suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts as “worsening of depression” or “emotional liability” rather than admitting that they are side effects of the medication.

“Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness — to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function they entail,” warned holistic women’s health psychiatrist, Dr. Kelly Brogan, writing for Green Med Info. “The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates.

“While you might call it ‘going through withdrawal,’ we medical professionals have been instructed to call it ‘discontinuation syndrome,’ which can be characterized by fiercely debilitating physical and psychological reactions. Moreover, antidepressants have a well-established history of causing violent side effects, including suicide and homicide. In fact, five of the top 10 most violence-inducing drugs have been found to be antidepressants.”

This doesn’t mean that our children need to be left to struggle through depression and isolation without any help, however. Experts recommend family, individual and other therapies, lifestyle changes including exercise and dietary changes, and spending more time outdoors with family and friends as healthy, side-effect-free ways to help kids cope.

Learn more about the dangers of antidepressant drugs at Psychiatry.news.

Sources include:





People who drink moderate amounts of coffee each day have a lower risk of death from disease

Image: People who drink moderate amounts of coffee each day have a lower risk of death from disease

Many people drink coffee for an energy boost, but do you know that it can also prolong your life? A study published in the journal Circulation revealed that moderate amounts — or less than five cups — of coffee each day can lower your risk of death from many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and nervous system disorders. It can also lower death risk due to suicide.

The study’s researchers explained this effect could be attributed to coffee’s naturally occurring chemical compounds. These bioactive compounds reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation, which might be responsible for the association between coffee and mortality. (Related: Coffee drinkers have a lower mortality rate and lower risk of various cancers.)

The researchers reached this conclusion after analyzing the coffee consumption every four years of participants from three large studies: 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study; 93,054 women in the Nurses’ Health Study 2; and 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They did this by using validated food questionnaires. During the follow-up period of up to 30 years, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died from different causes.

They found that people who often consumed coffee tend to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. To differentiate the effects of coffee from smoking, they carried out their analysis again among non-smokers. Through this, the protective benefits of coffee on deaths became even more apparent.

With these findings, the researchers suggested that regular intake of coffee could be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, pregnant women and children should consider the potential high intake of caffeine from coffee or other drinks.

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Because the study was not designed to show a direct cause and effect relationship between coffee consumption and dying from illness, the researchers noted that the findings should be interpreted with caution. Still, this study contributes to the claim that moderate consumption of coffee offers health benefits.

The many benefits of coffee

Many studies have shown that drinking a cup of coffee provides health benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Coffee helps prevent diabetes: A study conducted by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers showed that drinking coffee helps prevent Type 2 diabetes by increasing levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which regulates hormones that influence the development of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) also found that increased coffee intake may lower Type 2 diabetes risk.
  • Coffee protects against Parkinson’s disease: Studies have shown that consuming more coffee and caffeine may significantly lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It has also been reported that the caffeine content of coffee may help control movement in people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee keeps the liver healthy: Coffee has some protective effects on the liver. Studies have shown that regular intake of coffee can protect against liver diseases, such as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and cirrhosis of the liver, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. Drinking decaffeinated coffee also decreases liver enzyme levels. Research has also shown that coffee may help ward off cancer. A study by Italian researchers revealed that coffee intake cuts the risk of liver cancer by up to 40 percent. Moreover, some of the results indicate that drinking three cups of coffee a day may reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent.
  • Coffee prevents heart disease: A study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and HSPC researchers showed that moderate coffee intake, or two European cups, each day prevents heart failure. Drinking four European cups a day can lower heart failure risk by 11 percent.

15 Things People Who Deal With Suicidal Thoughts Want You To Know

Dealing with suicidal ideation isn’t uncommon, but because it’s so difficult to talk about, a lot of people have misconceptions about what it’s like, and what it is and isn’t.

Having persistent thoughts of suicide is known as suicidal ideation. People can have passive suicidal ideation – feeling like they want to die but not acting on it – or active suicidal ideation, which, like it sounds, includes making plans.

To help others better understand suicide and suicidal ideation, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what they wished other people understood about their experience. Hundreds of people reached out with their stories — heartbreaking and hopeful, personal and thoughtful — and here were some of the most common things they want more people to know:

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

1. Suicidal ideation isn’t always about wanting to die — it’s a lot more complicated than that.

It can be feeling like you don’t have another way to make the pain stop or hopelessness about the future. It can be indifference about life or the hope that an accident or disease takes the choice out of your hands. It can be about making reckless or self-sabotaging decisions. Everyone experiences it differently.

2. Not everyone who deals with suicidal thoughts is an active suicide risk.

When we talk about suicidal thoughts, a lot of people imagine it means someone is standing on a proverbial ledge. But suicidality exists on a spectrum, and passive suicidal ideation — meaning chronically not wanting to be alive, but not necessarily actively wanting to die — is a thing people often forget about.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

3. Plenty of people function day-to-day despite having suicidal ideation, so never assume you can tell what someone is going through.

For some, suicidal ideation is as ordinary as feeling hungry or tired. It gnaws at you, but you carry on anyway.

4. But that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting, scary, or intense to deal with.

You can still struggle and need help and support even if you’re not an active risk for suicide — in fact, getting that help and support early is one of the important ways to lessen the chance of reaching the point when suicide becomes a real option.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

5. You don’t always “get over” dealing with suicidal ideation — plenty of people have developed ways to manage it.

Like many mental illnesses, suicidal thoughts can be something you live with and adapt to with proper treatment and support. You come up with an arsenal of coping skills, develop emergency plans, and learn how to identify signs that you need to reach out for help.

6. It can affect all kinds of people, no matter their gender, age, or life circumstances.

You don’t need a “reason” to feel suicidal and it can impact you no matter how “good” you have it. Mental illness does not discriminate.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

7. That said, some people feel suicidal as a direct result of a traumatic or distressing event.

Grief, abuse, financial problems, remorse, rejection, a breakup, and unemployment are all possible triggers for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

8. And ideation can come on suddenly and unexpectedly and feel entirely out of character.

Not everyone’s suicidal thoughts are chronic or familiar — and if they hit when you’ve never had thoughts of that nature, it can be petrifying.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

9. Hearing people talk about how suicide is selfish or cowardly is incredibly hurtful — and also factually incorrect.

There’s no way to know what it’s like to feel so hopeless that death seems like the only option unless you have been there — and if you have, you know there’s nothing selfish or cowardly about it.

10. Suicide attempts don’t have to be brought on by a “tipping point” or something that “pushed them over the edge.”

Suicide attempts can seem sudden and out of nowhere from the outside, and people often assume there must be a tangible reason, but a lot of the time it’s more complicated than that. Attempts happen when someone feels like they no longer can cope with an overwhelming situation or feelings.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

11. Getting therapy or medication isn’t a magic fix — so encouragements to “get help” can be a little demoralizing.

Yes, help is absolutely necessary and can save lives. But taking the first step to reach out isn’t the only difficult part of the process. Healing from or learning to manage suicidal thoughts takes a lot of time and work, so don’t assume that because someone is suicidal it’s because they haven’t sought help.

12. On that note, there are different and sometimes better ways to help someone than sharing suicide lifelines.

People share suicide lifelines with the best of intentions — but if you think someone is struggling, reach out. Ask them how you can be supportive. Tell them you care about them. Real contact and compassion can go a lot further than seeing hotline numbers tossed into the void.

13. Telling people that they have ~so much to live for~ isn’t helpful.

It just reads as, “You’re wrong to feel this way.” Same with asking them to imagine how hurt their loved ones will be. All that kind of talk does is add more pressure, guilt, and hopelessness.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

14. Talking about suicide doesn’t increase the risk or “give people ideas.”

There’s this misconception that talking about suicide will lead to suicide, but suicidal ideation is bred in isolation. Those conversations aren’t easy — but it’s so important to be able to have an open dialogue and ask the hard questions.

15. In general, dealing with suicidal ideation is a lot more common than you might think it is.

Obviously, it’s comforting to think of suicidal ideation as a distant, theoretical thing that happens to other people and not anyone you know. But the more you realize that people around you — people close to you, even — could be dealing with this without you knowing, the more we can normalize talking about it. And the more we can talk about it, the closer we are to making sure no one has to suffer alone.

If you are thinking about suicide or just need to talk to someone, you can speak to someone by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or by texting HOME to 741741, the Crisis Text Line. And here are suicide helplines outside the US.

Suicide Is A Society-Wide Problem That Needs A Society-Wide Solution

People across our communities need the confidence and skills to speak openly about suicide.

The weekend before Greg Hunt got his fellow health ministers from the states and territories to agree to a national plan to reduce suicide, I watched people with paper butterflies in Bendigo trying to heal the sorrowful hurt of our national suicide emergency.

At a community event there, I saw affected family members and friends queue up — young and old, townies with tattoos and country conservatives in Akubras — to pin their homemade personal tributes onto a net that symbolised holding hope.

I counted some 50 butterflies and some 800 participants.

I listened to a local GP who regularly deals with people with suicidality say: “People aren’t dying to die. People are dying from the pain of not being heard.”

Now, as governments and stakeholders consider what a national suicide prevention plan should include, and we finally join the other 28 countries who currently have one, we would be wise to listen and learn from the hard-earned and heartfelt lessons of those of ‘lived experience’. Those who directly deal with suicidal people, those impacted on by suicide death, and those who have overcome suicidality.

The vast majority of those who experience suicidality do not die.

For the 3027 deaths by suicide in the past statistical year — a 10-year high at a time of 25 straight years of economic growth — there were likely more than 100,000 attempts. The vast majority of those who experience suicidality do not die.

Let’s start our listening there, where hope lives. We know from overseas successes that suicide is practically preventable. For many, suicidality is an experience of being overwhelmed by pain at a point in time. This ‘psych-ache’ is contributed to by isolating factors such as loss of work, lack of access to services, relationship breakdown, addiction, and, in some but certainly not all cases, mental illness.

If we can hear people in that critical period and respectfully support them through what’s happening for them, many go on to live positive and prosperous lives. Therefore, the infrastructure for crisis support is vital to recognise in a national plan. We believe we contribute to saving some 1100 lives per week by being unconditionally there for people in intense pain and confusion.

Part of our contribution needs to be about matching our tradition of empathy with greater effectiveness. This year, to compliment the near 1 million phone and Internet interactions we fielded from around 300,000 Australians in crisis, we will seek to introduce crisis text and messaging.

A large portion of Australian communications activity is by SMS or some form of messaging, and that’s where we need to be to help. That’s especially true of men (about 75 percent of all suicides), and younger people (where rates are rising again), who may be more likely to use text or messaging in the first instance to seek help. Plus, it may make crisis support more accessible to rural and regional communities with weaker signals for mobile coverage, which typically have the most frightening suicide rates in Australia. We have at least enough money from the Feds and some very dedicated corporates to trial this year.

People across our society need the confidence and skills to speak openly about suicide, to remove the barriers such as shame and blame, and to encourage help-seeking.

Another key message from people with ‘lived experience’, especially those who have sadly seen loved ones die, is the need for greater skills in the community to address suicide among our family, friends, workmates and neighbours. Organisations such as Mates in Construction are currently doing a great job of training people in the high-susceptibility industry that is construction.

But we need to do more to destigmatise suicide and empower more people to have suicide-related conversations. That includes more involvement by the broader business community, especially where suicide risk is higher. Focus should be on male-dominated professions, and ‘gatekeeper’ sectors such as education, social welfare, employment organisations and the judiciary. People across our society need the confidence and skills to speak openly about suicide, to remove the barriers such as shame and blame, and to encourage help-seeking.

On the other hand, ‘spotting the signs’ of suicide is a difficult proposition that often eludes trained professionals, and there’s limited return in training people in this method of prevention. It’s likely to be more effective to empower the community to ask the critical question, “Are you suicidal?”, that Lifeline asks an average of 2500 times per day.

We need to use what we know about speaking about suicide from our 54 years of experience and share it with a community that has come to trust us to a truly humbling extent. We need more support for school and university programs, and businesses are literally crying out for help for their employees, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders.

Another ‘lived experience’ voice that is vital to hear is the one that consistently says this to Lifeline crisis supporters: “I’ve just left the hospital after a suicide attempt and don’t know what to do.” There is a massive gap in services and support for the group that is much more likely to be suicidal: those who have already made an initial attempt. As overseas evidence suggests, many of the deaths of this group of people are preventable through better ‘post-vention’ and recovery, including improved discharge procedures, after-care facilities, follow-up services, and peer-to-peer support.

This we can do and it’s an area Hunt is very focussed on. It’s a group of people who number in their hundreds and we literally know them by name. They have been to hospital; we can deliver hope directly to them by breaking down the barriers between hospital systems and charities, and by using the best of what modern technology offers us, such as e-health.

A national strategy can’t be up to the mental health and emotional wellbeing sectors alone, because it will fail.

Whether it’s ‘lived experience’ or others, a key aspect is co-ownership. A society wide problem needs a society wide solution. A national strategy can’t be up to the mental health and emotional wellbeing sectors alone, because it will fail.

As an alternative approach, The Huffington Post Australia, Twitter, Accor, and Lifeline will soon hold a #stopsuicide summit with 50 CEO-level executives and leaders from multiple sectors such as financial services, public administration, media, transport, tourism, agriculture, the law, resources and ICT to discuss their ideas for innovation and problem solving around suicide.

Ultimately, it’s this continuum of compassion and innovation that we need to have a go at, or as the World Health Organisation recommends, from ‘universal’ strategies to fight stigma to ‘selective’ strategies to reduce risks in vulnerable communities to ‘indicated’ strategies for specific people who need immediate support. As a colleague describes it: more of what works and more of what we need to try. And, in that respect, the principle of co-design, the use of evidence, the inclusion of measurement and evaluation, and the identification of accountability structures are simply non-negotiables in good policy and practice.

While a national plan is a good and necessary thing, the truth is much suicide will be prevented not by change in public policy but change in personal perspective. The disconnectedness and toxic loneliness that drives much suicide is given space to exist when we don’t go out of our way to look after each other and connect.

When the pervasive narcissism of our times negates our niceness to each other. When vanity blocks our values. When our practice of empathy goes without everyday practice. When our compassion is doled out in convenient clicks rather than acts of kindness. When we don’t speak plainly about the very real social disadvantages that at least compound suicidality in many people.

In the months ahead, we have the chance to make a real plan to save Australian lives. But, in this very moment, we have the chance to make a real promise to ourselves to care and connect with those who most need it. One bereaved mother in Bendigo told me that’s what she now devotes her life too; we should look at our own actions too.


Key facts

  • Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.
  • For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.
  • 79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

Every year close to 800 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds globally in 2016.

Suicide does not just occur in high-income countries, but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world. In fact, over 79% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2016.

Suicide is a serious public health problem; however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multisectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed.

Who is at risk?

While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and prisoners. By far the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

Methods of suicide

It is estimated that around 20% of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low- and middle-income countries. Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.

Knowledge of the most commonly used suicide methods is important to devise prevention strategies which have shown to be effective, such as restriction of access to means of suicide.

Prevention and control

Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include:

  • reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
  • reporting by media in a responsible way;
  • introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
  • early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
  • training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour;
  • follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.

Suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide.

Challenges and obstacles

Stigma and taboo

Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need. The prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it. To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy.

Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.

Data quality

Globally, the availability and quality of data on suicide and suicide attempts is poor. Only 60 Member States have good-quality vital registration data that can be used directly to estimate suicide rates. This problem of poor-quality mortality data is not unique to suicide, but given the sensitivity of suicide – and the illegality of suicidal behaviour in some countries – it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.

Improved surveillance and monitoring of suicide and suicide attempts is required for effective suicide prevention strategies. Cross-national differences in the patterns of suicide, and changes in the rates, characteristics and methods of suicide highlight the need for each country to improve the comprehensiveness, quality and timeliness of their suicide-related data. This includes vital registration of suicide, hospital-based registries of suicide attempts and nationally representative surveys collecting information about self-reported suicide attempts.

WHO response

WHO recognizes suicide as a public health priority. The first WHO World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” published in 2014, aims to increase the awareness of the public health significance of suicide and suicide attempts and to make suicide prevention a high priority on the global public health agenda. It also aims to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies in a multisectoral public health approach.

Suicide is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) launched in 2008, which provides evidence-based technical guidance to scale up service provision and care in countries for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10% by 2020.

In addition, the suicide mortality rate is an indicator of target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals: by 2030, to reduce by one third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.


Millennials Are at Higher Risk for Mental Health Issues. This May Be Why

Article Image

Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past. Many reasons have been offered but none definitive, until now. A new study finds that this generation carries much higher levels of perfectionism, and that these elevated expectations may be to blame. UK researchers came to these conclusions, which were published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

Since the 1980s, governments and their adjacent societies in the US, UK, and Canada, have focused on individual improvement, both in the economic and social sphere. Since then, people in these countries have been working on themselves, forever striving for self-improvement, particularly in the forms of higher educational and career attainment, and better social standing. But what cost comes with putting all that emphasis on individual achievement?

According to Thomas Curran, from the University of Bath and Andrew Hill, of York St. John University, the results are being seen with this latest generation, the Millennials (ages 18-35). This generation feels overburdened with a perfectionist streak unknown to their parents or grandparents.

In their paper, researchers define perfectionism as “a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations.” It isn’t simple perfectionism doing Millennials in but “multidimensional perfectionism,” meaning these young adults feel pressure to measure up to an ever-growing number of criteria. Striving to reach impossible standards increases the risk of anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, and even suicidal ideation.

Millennials are more perfectionist than the past two generations, and this may be leading to higher incidents of mental health issues. 

To conduct the study, researchers recruited 41,641 college students in the US, the UK, and Canada. Each completed a metric known as the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. This tests for three different types.

The first is self-oriented perfectionism, which is an irrational need for one’s self to reach an overly ambitious goal. The second is socially prescribed perfectionism or pressure from others to achieve the loftiest of heights, and the third is other-oriented perfectionism, or having unrealistic expectations of others. This study also looked at how perfectionism has changed over decades, beginning in the 1980s.

The data revealed that Millennials experience all three types of perfectionism, and these scores were higher than with college students in the past. Comparing this with scores from past cohorts, Hill and Curran found that self-oriented perfectionism increased 10% from 1989 to 2016. External pressure perfectionism increased 33% in that same time period. And external perfectionism shot up 16%.

So why the increase? Greater competitiveness, a continued focus on individualism, and overbearing and anxious parents may be why. Higher educational demands and the need to find a job that earns a significant salary, also lead to an inflated need for perfection.

Neoliberal meritocracy itself in this view, comes at a cost. “Meritocracy,” Curran said, “places a strong need for young people to strive, perform, and achieve in modern life. Young people are responding by reporting increasingly unrealistic educational and professional expectations for themselves. As a result, perfectionism is rising among millennials.”

Social media may also be playing a role. 

In 1976, 50% of high school seniors said they planned to graduate from college. By 2008, 80% planned on doing so. “These findings suggest that recent generations of college students have higher expectations of themselves and others than previous generations,” Curran said. “Today’s young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected, and of worth.”

Social media too may be exerting its influence. Seeing peers portrayed with perfect bodies, achieving noteworthy goals, or modeling RomCom-worthy relationships, increases feelings of insecurity, and so ramps up competitiveness and the desire to do well. The drawbacks are a propensity toward mental health issues, body issues and even, social isolation. One drawback to the study, it offers few ways to take the pressure off Millennials, besides professors, supervisors, and parents making light of academic and career-oriented tasks, when they instead might turn the screws to increase performance.

Curran and Hill conclude that, “American, Canadian, and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic, and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”

Truth is, there is no such thing as perfection. And we learn far more from our failures than we ever do our successes. So instead of trying to be perfect, it might be best to perfect how to learn from the times we come up short.

How Not to Talk About Suicide

There’s a right and a wrong way to do it.


When Logan Paul, a YouTube vlogger with more than 15 million subscribers, posted a video to his channel showing the body of a man who had died by suicidein Japan’s Aokigahara forest, the backlash was swift. Many outraged viewers accused the YouTube star of exploiting a dead body for shock, awe, and more video views.

Paul later apologized with a message on Twitter, where he wrote, “I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention…I thought ‘if this video saves just one life, it will be worth it.’” He also took down the offending video and posted another apology on his channel.

Although posting a video of a dead body in the name of suicide prevention and awareness seems like an obvious ethical blunder—not to mention traumatic for the deceased person’s family members and friends—Paul had an army of defenders. Reminiscent of how the creators of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Whydefended showing graphic images of the show’s main character Hannah dying by suicide, Paul’s supporters claimed that posting the consequences of a suicide would be a deterrent for those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

As it turns out, the opposite is true.

Posting graphic images or descriptions of how someone has killed themselves can lead to what experts call suicide contagion.

Contagion is the idea that how the media portrays the issue of suicide could lead to suicidal behavior in people, Richard McKeon, PhD, clinical psychologist and chief of the suicide prevention branch at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tells SELF. “There is scientific research literature on this that shows that how newspapers, movies, and other things cover suicide can have a measurable impact.”“If the aim is to bring awareness to suicide prevention, that’s very different than bringing awareness to suicide,” John Draper, PhD, executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, tells SELF. Although he hasn’t seen Logan Paul’s video and declined commenting on it directly, Draper says that how the media covers suicide does have a major impact. “Media really influences behavior,” he explains. “If you’re actually talking about and showing specific suicides in some ways that are dramatizing, glorifying, or specifically showing people how, then that has been associated with increasing suicide.”

A significant issue, however, is that the media these days isn’t limited to mainstream media outlets; social media influencers like Paul draw a large and loyal following, and the way they talk about suicide matters.

There are actually specific guidelines about how to talk about suicide (and how not to) to prevent the contagion effect. These guidelines, called the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide are specifically for the media, but they’re a good resource for anyone with a large audience. The Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide are based on more than 50 international studies on suicide contagion, and they include not using sensational headlines, not showcasing photos or videos of the location or method of death, and not interviewing first responders about the cause of death.

It’s also important not to frame suicide as an “epidemic.” “[Epidemic] implies that something is so frequent that one could consider it normal, and that that might, for a vulnerable person, decrease their inhibitions,” McKeon explains. While over 44,000 Americans died by suicide in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data, millions more seriously considered dying by suicide but didn’t, according to SAMHSA.

“Obviously, there needs to be attention to suicide because it’s the 10th leading cause of death in America,” McKeon says. “But we don’t want the dimensions of the tragic losses that we experience from suicide to so overwhelm the message that it blocks out the fact that help is available, that people do get through dark times, that there is hope, that people can get treatment for mental health issues and mental disorders, and that people can recover and can lead a fulfilling life after a suicidal crisis or a suicide attempt.”

It’s also smart to avoid using the term “commit.” McKeon says, adding that this is out of sensitivity to the family members who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide. “They have pointed out that we use the language of commit around things like committing a crime, committing a sin; and suicide, while a tragedy, should not be considered as a sin or a crime,” he says. “Died by suicide” or “killed himself or herself” are better options.

Emphasizing resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255, is also critical for people discussing suicide on a large platform.

There are also established best practices for handling the topic of suicide with the people you’re close to.

Talking to a friend or family member who you think may be having suicidal thoughts can be scary, but it can also help you keep them safe. If you’re not sure where to start, these five steps from BeThe1To.com, a suicide prevention website from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, can help:

1. Ask.

Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” lets them know that you’re open to speaking about suicide with compassion and without judgment. You can also ask how you can help them. The flip side, the website notes, is that you also need to listen to their answers, even if they’re upsetting or hard for you to understand. Also, don’t promise to keep their suicidal thoughts a secret, because your telling other people may be what they need to get help.

2. Keep them safe.

If after the “Ask” step you’ve determined that they are thinking about suicide, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety. You should determine whether they’ve already done anything to harm themselves before talking with you; if they know how they would try to kill themselves with a specific, detailed plan; what the timing of their plan is; and whether they have access to the tools they would need to see it through. Depending on their answers, you may need to call the police or take the person in question to the emergency room. You can always call the Lifeline if you’re not sure what to do (again, that number is 1-800-273-8255).

3. Be there.

Maybe this means going over to their place when they’re feeling upset, or staying on the phone with them while they prepare to call a hotline. You shouldn’t verbally commit to being there in any way that you don’t think you’ll actually be able to accomplish, the guidelines note—dependability is really key.

4. Help them connect.

Calling the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is one way to help a person with suicidal ideation connect to someone who can help them. Another is to create a more robust safety plan with a list of contact information for mental health resources in their community, along with exploring the possibility of them seeing a therapist if they’re not already. .

5. Follow up.

Doing all of the above means you’ve taken meaningful steps to help someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. After that, make sure to follow up with them, express that you care, and ask if there’s anything else you can do to help. This shows that they’re important to you, and that you’re there to support them with an extremely common issue that, unfortunately, is still subject to far too much stigma and misunderstanding.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

’13 Reasons Why’ Is Not the Force for Mental Health Awareness People Say It Is

Mental health experts don’t agree with the way suicide is portrayed in the show.
13 reasons why hannah

The buzzy new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is the streaming site’s most popular show on social media (research firm Fizziology told Refinery29 that it generated 3,585,110 tweets during its first week), and many are calling it a force for mental health and suicide awareness. For instance, some people have praised the show, saying the fictional setting (a safe, small-town-ish city) shows this could happen at any school and that sometimes a number of factors lead people to feel that suicide is their only option—it’s often not just one. Others have said it helps raise awareness about warning signs to look out for.

The show, which is executive produced by Selena Gomez, is based on the 2011 best-selling Jay Asher book by the same name. In it, teen Hannah Baker leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explaining in explicit detail why she chose to kill herself. Each tape is dedicated to one of Hannah’s peers, calling them out for the things they have done to her and ways they’ve caused her harm. 13 Reasons Why covers a wide variety of serious topics, including bullying, rape, slut shaming, depression, and, of course, suicide.

Asher told EW recently that Hannah lived in his original ending for the book—she was supposed to have overdosed on pills but then was saved at the hospital when her stomach was pumped. But he says he realized that death was necessary to raise awareness of the consequences of suicide. “Once I realized that the message of the story would be stronger and that it would definitely be more of a cautionary tale, I felt that was definitely the way to go,” he told EW. In talking about the show’s finale, Asher also told EW that they purposefully made the suicide scene in the show graphic—for the purpose of driving home the point that her choice to end her life was a bad one. “We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide,” he said.

But experts are deeply concerned that the book and the show may have the opposite of that intended awareness-raising effect, and may impart viewers with the exact wrong takeaway lessons. Ultimately, the entire premise of the story goes against all accepted best practices for how to address suicide responsibly in the mass media. ReportingOnSuicide.org is home to The Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide, which the authors created by working with with “several international suicide prevention and public health organizations, schools of journalism, media organizations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts,” per their About page.

These Recommendations exist because over 50 research studies worldwide have found the way newspapers and news media covers suicide can have an impact on public health—when journalists discuss suicides in the news in particular ways, it can actually lead to a greater risk for suicides. Per the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide, journalists are taught to follow certain specific rules when discussing suicide:

  • Don’t sensationalize the suicide.
  • Don’t talk about the contents of the suicide note, if there is one.
  • Don’t describe the suicide method.
  • Report on suicide as a public health issue.
  • Don’t speculate why the person might have done it.
  • Don’t quote or interview police or first responders about the causes of suicide.
  • Describe suicide as “died by suicide” or “completed” or “killed him/herself,” rather than “committed suicide.”
  • Don’t glamorize suicide.

13 Reasons Why effectively violates every single one of those guidelines.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and each year more than 44,000 Americans die by suicide. The potential for impact on people who are already at risk for suicide is real. Of course, fiction isn’t the same as journalism. But the experts we spoke with said that all mass media has the potential to have this effect on vulnerable people—and that’s especially true for teenagers.

John Mayer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who works with suicidal teens and author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells SELF that the show is “a sad exploitation of a devastating problem among our youth. I don’t see the value in it except to sensationalize teenage suicide,” he says.

Media is powerful, especially among younger demographics that are drawn to the show, Miami-area licensed clinical psychologist Erika Martinez, Psy.D., tells SELF. “For millennials and Generation Z, what they see in media is canon,” she says. “It can certainly glamorize suicide and lead to this copycat sort of effect.”

Phyllis Alongi, MS, NCC, LPC, ACS, clinical director at the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, tells SELF that her organization “does not agree” with many of the aspects portrayed in the show, such as romanticizing suicide, including graphic details or depictions of the suicide, inadequate and ineffective assistance from the school counselor, memorialization of the person who killed herself, and placing blame and insufficient treatment. “Hannah’s story is fictional, tragic, and not the norm,” she says. And unfortunately, teens might not recognize that by watching it.

13 Reasons Why is essentially one long suicide note that makes it seem as though, by killing yourself, you and your problems will not be forgotten. The show is narrated by a boy named Clay who is in love with Hannah and, consequently, she’s held up as a “goddess” figure (Clay watches her walk into a party in slo-mo—the kind of moment every girl wants a guy to have about her). Hannah is also a gifted poet, likable and relatable, and deeply misunderstood—and her peers keep doing horrible things to her that get worse and worse as the story goes on.

Hannah uses her suicide and the tapes to get revenge on, and gain control over, those who hurt and violated her. The tapes are like fuel for her power, boosting her posthumous status to become “the girl who completed suicide.” Hannah even calls out her guidance counselor, Mr. Porter, for failing to help her find a reason to live—essentially blaming someone else for a decision that she ultimately made for herself.

Teenagers are especially susceptible to seeing suicide depicted in such a way, and taking dangerous and inaccurate lessons from it—such as that suicide is a viable coping mechanism when you feel hopeless or in despair; that it’s a glamorous way to get the attention you’ve been seeking (by never being forgotten) or the revenge you’ve been dreaming of (by getting back at people who’ve wronged you); and that parents and guidance counselors are inept, out of touch, and unable to help you when you’re in trouble. “When we are [teenagers], our coping mechanisms are not developed, so we are left to rely on primitive defense mechanisms and our most primitive is avoidance,” Mayer says. “Suicide is the ultimate act of avoidance—avoiding life.” Knowing or hearing about suicide puts the thoughts of it in someone’s mind and creates the possibility that it’s a real choice, Mayer says, which is why he thinks the show is so exploitive.

The truth is that the show is out there, so if you have a teenager who’s watching it (and if you have a teenager, they probably are), the best option is to be super honest and direct with them about how the show is problematic and unrealistic, and also be open about what other more important lessons a teenager can take from it. Lessons such as: Suicide is a really bad way to cope with things that are going wrong in life—and there are more effective ways to solve your problems; that you really hurt people who love you if you kill yourself; and that suicide is final, and the opposite of glamorous. “If teens are going to watch 13 Reasons Why, we need to utilize the experience by focusing on suicide prevention,” Alongi says.


Mental health campaigner who created Project Semicolon dies at 31.

Mental health campaigner who created Project Semicolon dies at 31
Amy Bleuel, 31, from Wisconsin, founded Project Semicolon in 2013 with one goal in mind – to help people struggling with mental illness, suicide and addiction. 

The woman behind a powerful mental health campaign which aims to lower suicide rates around the world has died. 


Amy Bleuel, 31, from Wisconsin, founded Project Semicolon in 2013 with one goal in mind – to help people struggling with mental illness, suicide and addiction.

She encouraged people to draw or tattoo semicolons on themselves as a message of hope – a sign that their story isn’t finished – and to fight the stigma of mental health.

Jeff Strommen, the chairman of the Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention who had previously worked with Amy, told Fox 11: ‘Her loss is felt tremendously both by myself and our community here.’

The most recent post on her Facebook fan page was written on March 20 and reads: ‘Depression takes root when the picture of the past is more powerful than the picture of the future.’

Amy struggled with mental illness for more than 20 years and experienced many stigmas associated with it.


After overcoming some of her struggles, she began sharing stories and giving hope to others struggling with mental illness.

On the Project Semicolon website, Amy, who lost her own father to suicide in 2003, wrote: ‘Despite the wounds of a dark past I was able to rise from the ashes, proving that the best is yet to come.


‘When my life was filled with the pain of rejection, bullying, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, I kept on fighting.

‘I didn’t have a lot of people in my corner, but the ones I did have kept me going. In my 20 years of personally struggling with mental health I experienced many stigmas associated with it.

‘Through the pain came inspiration and a deeper love for others. Please remember there is hope for a better tomorrow.’

Amy Bleuel death
She passed away last Thursday 

Since the news of her passing was released, there has been an outpouring of support on the Facebook page.

One person wrote: ‘Just being real, being who you are, not being ashamed, or afraid to talk about things that are difficult to talk about, she did that well.’


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