October 10th is not just any regular day for Fiji. It is Fiji’s Independence Day. And this year we celebrate our 49th year of independence. This day is significant for all Fijians around the world. The noble banner blue is seen all around different cities and towns, lunch and dinner plans are extraordinary, celebrations are organized and the national anthem is sung with a different zeal.
October 10th is also significant for an entirely different reason, World Mental Health Day. The day is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). It is commemorated by various organizations, institutions and countries around the world.
World mental health day is to celebrate awareness for the global community to help people feel hopeful and empowered. By using the hashtag #LetsTalk you can be a part of a global dialogue around mental health. This year the main theme for the day is “suicide prevention”. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. In light of this, World Mental Health Day 2019 involves communities working together to prevent suicide. WFMH writes that “It is often believed that it is only adults who exhibit suicidal behaviors, but it should be made known that many children and young people engage in this kind of behavior as a result of violence, sexual abuse, bullying and cyberbullying.”
Last year a new study in the United Kingdom found cyberbullying makes young people more than twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide. Researchers found that cyberbullying raised the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour 2.3 times. According to Lifeline Fiji it is estimated that every 36 hours a Fijian attempts suicide.
These stark realities give us an opportunity to us October 10th as not only a day of celebration and pride but also one of intentional conversations and checking in on the mental health of those who we hold dear.
Happy Fiji Day! #LetsTalk