Globally, nearly 800,000 people die from suicide every year. That equals one person every forty seconds. And in many countries, those numbers have spiked since the start of the COVID pandemic as people have felt more isolated and helpless.
Those are sobering statistics, but what can we do about it?
Well, you can help by doing something as simple as sharing a video, paying attention to your friends on social media, and showing that you care.
Everyone has a digital footprint — the various activities we conduct online and on our digital devices. We post on social media, respond to text messages, read articles, watch videos, and listen to podcasts, and we like and share the content that interests us, among other things. Indigitous believes that as Christians, we can use our digital footprints to make a positive impact on our world.
As Christians, we’re called not just to share the Good News, but also to be good news. We are called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to demonstrate His love through loving others. And that brings us back to suicide awareness and prevention.
Look for warning signs
One thing you can do with your digital footprint is be on the lookout for any of the warning signs (shown below).
As you scroll social media, if you see any warning signs from a friend, reach out to her and ask how she’s doing. Show that you care. The U.S.’s National Institute of Mental Health recommends five steps to help someone in emotional pain:
- Ask. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question to ask, but it could save a life.
- Keep them safe. Reducing the person’s access to lethal items can make a difference.
- Be there. It’s important for an at-risk person to know that you’re there for her and that you care. Listen carefully and learn what she’s thinking or feeling.
- Help them connect. Help your friend connect with the appropriate suicide prevention hotline, depending on where she lives. You can also connect her with a trusted person like a good friend, family member, pastor, or mental health professional.
- Stay connected. Staying in touch after discussing suicide with her and connecting her can make a huge difference. Suicides are reduced when someone who cares follows up.
Share a message of hope
But what if no one you know shows any warning signs? Actually, we hope that’s the case. But there is still something you can do. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.
During the month of September, and especially on September 10, we encourage you to share a message of hope to those who are struggling. Our friends at 7MEDIA created a great video called “Always Choose Life.”
In the video, Jon Pritikin shares an inspiring story of a man who ended up in a coma and had to choose whether to fight for his life or give in and accept death. His message is simple and powerful. “Going towards life can be hard and painful, but I want to encourage you today, always pick life. The tough times you’re going through now won’t last forever. We’d rather have a broken you than no you at all,” Jon says as a rallying cry.
We encourage you to use your digital footprint to share this message of hope. Share it on your social media channels. Share it via text. Share it in your blog or talk about it in your podcast. Use whatever digital footprint you have to help people hear the inspiring words.
On the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention, you can also find a number of graphics that you can share online. You can also use the hashtags #WSPD, #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, and #WSPD2022 with your posts to be part of the global conversation.
If you keep an eye out for warning signs, reach out to those in need, and share messages of hope throughout Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, you can do your part to make a positive impact by using your digital footprint for God.