‘Take a minute – change a life’ on World Suicide Prevention Day

Monday, 4 September 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

In 1995, Sri Lanka had the highest rate of suicides in the world.  The Presidential Task Force was set up to mitigate this dismal statistic and subsequent action helped to reduce the number significantly from 47 to 16 per 100,000 by 2014.

However, it is still high. Globally, 800,000 suicides are reported annually and this number is higher than those killed by war or homicide.  It also means there’s a suicide every 40 seconds.  2017 marks the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day and it is endorsed by the World Health Organization. 

This year Sumithrayo is commemorating World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September with a program from 5 to 8 p.m. at Independence Square to motivate the nation to ‘Take a minute – Change a life’ and reduce the number of suicides further. The evening’s program is open to the general public.

Activities include a dramatic presentation by the Rotary Club of Sri Jayawardenepura University, compelling video cuts from survivors and a panel discussion by an eminent team comprising Chief Guest, Dr. Razia Pendse, WHO Representative in Sri Lanka; Thirupathy Suveendran, WHO Colombo; Dr. Velauthapillai Jegaruban, MOH, Govt. Addiction Centre Kilinochchi Hospital and Dr. Neil Fernando, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist. The discussion will be followed by questions and answers to motivate more people to take a minute and help someone who may be vulnerable. Winning entries of the art competition for youth organised by Sumithrayo to mark the day will be on display and the winners will receive prizes.  At 8 p.m. candles will be lit to remember a lost loved one, for the survivors of suicide and to show support for suicide prevention.

Sumithrayo has been providing emotional support to people in crisis for 42 years since 1974.About 150 distressed persons contact the Office each week. They either visit, write, telephone or e-mail, and find comfort in talking about their worries, fears and anxieties.

Here, kind and caring volunteers give of their time, patience and expertise to provide some consolation for the distressed. The Centre is open 365 days of the year from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and anyone may walk in or telephone during these hours to seek assistance.  Barriers such as class, race, and religion, political or sexual leanings are non-existent. Every caller will be provided with emotional support in an atmosphere of total confidentiality. The service provided is completely free.

Devoted to responding to people in crisis and preventing suicide, focusing on empathetic active listening and non-judgmental responses, Sumithrayo volunteers endeavor to take every person in crisis seriously. The goal of their befriending is to empower the caller to make life-enhancing choices. Today in Sri Lanka, an average, eight to 10 persons die by suicide every single day of the year. And for each person who dies by suicide at least 10 others fail in their attempt to end their life. 

Sumithrayo provides Confidential Emotional Support and is a Free Service, open 365 days – from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (including holidays). Call: 2692909, 2683555, 2696666. Visit: 60B Horton Place Colombo 7. Email: [email protected].