“Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address,” says the Star Is Born star, 32, in an essay cowritten with World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that appeared in The Guardian on Wednesday. Together they cite a frightening statistic: 800,000 people will die by suicide this year.
“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.”
They go on state that while celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade — who died a week apart in June — are mourned publicly, young people “are particularly vulnerable, with suicide being the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds and half of all mental illness beginning by the age of 14.”
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Despite the fact that “one in four of us” will statistically have to manage the effects of a mental health condition at some point, they write that only one percent of global aid goes towards prevention and raising awareness. What’s worse, the code of silence around the matter any exacerbates the problem.
“Despite the universality of the issue, we struggle to talk about it openly or to offer adequate care or resources. Within families and communities, we often remain silenced by a shame that tells us that those with mental illness are somehow less worthy or at fault for their own suffering.”
Together, they spearhead a two-pronged approach to fighting mental illness: dollars and sense.
“Research shows there is a fourfold return on investment for every dollar spent on treating depression and anxiety,” they write. Equally important, however, is the open discussion of the problem, and treating it like the public health crisis that it is. “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.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.