A Perspective On Suicide: How We Can All Help To Make A Difference

by Martinique Jobin

In May of this year, Switzerland's national railway company announced plans to extend measures in order to prevent suicides on its network.

On average, someone in Switzerland tries to commit suicide every other day, and an estimated 1,100 people commit suicide every year. This is a very large number for a population of only eight million.

Unfortunately, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, suicide is among the top 10 causes of death in Switzerland.

What's even more unfortunate is the fact that this issue is swept under the rug, due to its long-standing stigma. And not just in Switzerland, but worldwide.

A few years ago, my father's cousin committed suicide from an overdose of her medication. It was a pity my family couldn't bring themselves to properly discuss the cause of her death, or the fact that, later on, my aunt would attempt the same thing.

I think it's important to talk about suicide and how it affects everyone involved, not just the one individual.

Almost a year ago, we lost comedic genius Robin Williams to suicide, and his death was felt by millions. Never underestimate the impact you can have on someone's life.

The thing that scares me the most about suicide is the fact that people are able to take their own lives. We, as humans, have a primal instinct to live and survive. It's one of the few basic things we have to do in our lives: We survive, eat and reproduce.

We have to realize that when people commit suicide, they've reached a point in their lives that is so dark and hopeless, they override their instincts of survival, and are thus able to take their own lives.

According to International Suicide Statistics:

  • Over one million people die due to suicide worldwide each year.
  • The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 people.
  • On average, one person dies due to suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
  • 1.8 percent of deaths worldwide are due to suicides.
  • Global suicide rates have increased by 60 percent in the past 45 years.

It's a real issue we must try to combat.

If society demands you look and live a certain way that is unobtainable to you, you end up feeling inadequate and unworthy. If you are being bullied on a daily basis and feel like you have no support from anyone, you can't enjoy waking up to face a new day.

If you feel severely depressed and can't seem to ever find the light at the end of the tunnel, your existence just becomes too painful to go on.

If you're unemployed and the bills just keep piling up, the pressure to support yourself and your possible family can become too great. If the love of your life left you shattered to pieces, you might not want to continue without him or her by your side.

Many other reasons can lead us to feel anxious, hopeless, unaccomplished and undeserving. So much so that ultimately, we commit suicide. But we can stop this. Or at least try to.

Talk about your problems; discuss suicide. If you feel someone needs help, help him or her in any way you can. Be kind to everyone you meet because you don't know the struggle anyone might be going through.

If you don't think one small gesture can make a difference, I would like to share with you "The Starfish Story": A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along, he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks. “Because the sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them further in, they will die.” “But old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach, with starfish all along! You can’t possibly save them all. You can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly, and then bent down to pick up another starfish. As he threw it into the sea, he said,

“It made a difference to that one.”