"Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address," the essay reads. "Stigma, fear and lack of understanding compound the suffering of those affected and prevent the bold action that is so desperately needed and so long overdue."
Gaga and Ghebreyesus cite the statistic that 800,000 people around the world will likely die by suicide this year, writing, "Sometimes they are famous names such as Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade that make headlines, but they are all sons or daughters, friends or colleagues, valued members of families and communities."
In 2017 there were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Earlier this year, a study from the National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS) found that in the last decade, the number of people who die by suicide in the U.S. has increased — particularly among women. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., and each year, 44,965 Americans die by suicide.
"We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma or stymied by misguided ideas that portray these conditions as a matter of weakness or moral failing," Gaga and Ghebreyesus' essay continues. "We can all help to build communities that understand, respect and prioritise mental wellness. We can all learn how to offer support to loved ones going through a difficult time. And we can all be a part of a new movement – including people who have faced mental illness themselves – to call on governments and industry to put mental health at the top of their agendas."
If you are thinking about suicide, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.