From September 9 through October 10, TELL will hold numerous events around Japan to mark World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD, September 10) and World Mental Health Day (WMHD, October 10).
On September 9, TELL will hold its second Tokyo Tower Climb and join others around the world in taking action to combat suicides in our communities and the unacceptable loss of lives. TELL will also launch a Give Hearts for Life campaign as part of its efforts for WMHD. Through the #GiveHeartsforLife campaign, TELL will be asking people around the country to write words of support and encouragement to those struggling with mental health issues on orange hearts, which signify compassion and care. We will share these message on social media platforms throughout the month. It is our goal to have 21,140 messages to mark the number of lives lost to suicide in Japan last year.
While the number of lives lost to suicide in recent years has been declining in Japan, it is important to remember that every week over 400 people lose their battle with mental illnesses, which are treatable. These figures are more than numbers. They are real people each with their own stories, who have, for many reasons, questioned the value of their lives and endured incredible pain and anguish to the point of killing themselves. According to the World Health Organization, for every life lost to suicide roughly 135 people are affected, many experiencing intense grief and guilt. Of those affected, 25 percent will go on to take their own life. So in just one year, over 3,000,000 people are affected by suicide in Japan.
Even more serious is the increase in youth mental illness globally. The focus for this year’s WMHD campaign is on youth and the demands they face in our rapidly changing society. Around the globe, the number of young people feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of school and life is increasing. Here in Japan, as people are coming back from their summer vacations and as school starts up again, the number of youth suicides spike. In 2017 over 500 young people in Japan ended their lives.
Education about mental illness in schools, in the community, in the workplace is urgently needed in Japan. Mental illnesses are treatable and preventing suicides is entirely possible. Even individuals suffering with conditions like schizophrenia can recover and lead full, active and productive lives. We also need to learn and listen to the lived experiences of those with mental illnesses, as they have invaluable insight and information into what works, what doesn’t, and what the barriers to recovery are.
This year’s WSPD theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.” Each one of us plays a vital role in the prevention of suicides. You can start by joining TELL in one of our many #GiveHeartsforLife activities, such as running up Tokyo Tower, joining one of our suicide Talkie Walkie in Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya or Tokyo. You can write words of encouragement and love on orange hearts to others struggling with mental illness and let them know they are not alone, that we care.
There are many other things that you can do, such as educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs, undertake mental health training in your workplace, university, school or volunteer on TELL’s Lifeline and help us go 24 hours. Working together, zero suicides is possible.
For more information about any of these events or how you can help, please visit our website www.telljp.com. Are you willing to join the fight and save a life?
TELL Tokyo Tower Climb, September 9th
World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th
World Mental Health Day, October 10th