Lady Gaga teamed with the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, on Tuesday (Oct. 9) to pen an essay for The Guardian about the epidemic of suicide, lack of reliable mental health support services around the world and the need to stop stigmatizing treatable conditions.
“By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world,” begins the essay by Gaga and Dr. Tedros Adhanom entitled “800,000 People Kill Themselves Every Year. What Can We Do?”
“Those six are a tiny fraction of the 800,000 people who will kill themselves this year – more than the population of Washington DC, Oslo or Cape Town,” it continues. “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.” The pair write that suicide is the “most extreme and visible symptom” of a global mental health emergency that the world is failing to address properly because of stigma, fear and a lack of understanding.
Citing statistics that say one in four of us will deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives, the pair note that young people are most vulnerable, with suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds and half of all mental illnesses beginning by 14. “Yet despite the universality of the issue, we struggle to talk about it openly or to offer adequate care or resources,” they write. “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.”
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