Yellow September Campaign: understand what it is and participate

September gains a special color in appreciation of life. Yellow illuminates the month and warns about the importance of mental health and causes institutions to mobilize themselves in action.

Thus, people, collectives, entities, health agencies and society in general receive the alert and have the chance to participate in actions that make the need to talk about suicide and mental health more evident.

Index – in this article you will find the following information:

  1. What is Yellow September?
  2. Why is Yellow September important?
  3. Yellow September Objective
  4. How did the Yellow September come about?
  5. Dialogue and media
  6. Life Valuation Center (CVV)
  7. What is suicide?
  8. Risk factors
  9. How to ask for help?
  10. What not to do if someone close has suicidal thoughts
  11. How to help?
  12. Warning signs
  13. Suicide myths

What is yellow September?

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Yellow September is a campaign by the Life Valuation Center that seeks to bring dialogue about suicide to society. Since 2015, the month seeks to raise awareness and prevent suicide.

Worldwide, approximately one person kills himself every 40 seconds. In Brazil alone, suicide is the fourth most common cause of death among young people. The subject is taboo. We don’t talk about him. The media avoids it for fear of increasing the numbers, people avoid it for fear of the subject itself and with that, we end up cutting the necessary dialogue.

Talking about suicide is important. It is a public health issue and is extremely necessary.

Why is yellow September important?

The Yellow September is a campaign that seeks to bring dialogue and prevent suicide. 90% of suicides could be prevented with psychological help. Most of them are caused by mental illnesses that are not treated because many people don’t even know they need treatment. Approximately 60% of people who die by suicide do not seek help.

Have you ever thought if this applied to other diseases? Imagine if 60% of people with fractures did not go to the doctor or if 60% of patients with appendicitis were not treated and you will realize that it is strange that so many people do not seek help. That’s because we, as a society, don’t talk about the subject, we don’t inform people.

About 17% of Brazilians have already seriously considered suicide. 4.8% of them have already developed a plan for this.

Yellow September Objective

The goal of the suicide prevention month is to make people aware of this very serious problem, which takes so many lives every year. Yellow September is a month of dialogue. It is a month that seeks to create conversations on the subject, to let people who suffer with suicidal thoughts know that they are not alone and that death is not a solution.

The Yellow September seeks to save lives through information and conversation on this serious subject that is still taboo.

How did the Yellow September come about?

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The yellow color is used to represent the month of suicide prevention because of Dale Emme and Darlene Emme. The couple was the start of the suicide prevention program “Yellow Ribbon”, or “Yellow Ribbon” in English.

In 1994, Mike Emme, the couple’s son, aged just 17, killed himself. Mike was known for his charitable personality and mechanical ability. He restored a 68 Mustang and painted it yellow. Mike loved that car and because of it he started to be known as “Mustang Mike”.

However, unfortunately, those close to Mike did not see the signs and the boy’s end of life came. On the day of his funeral, a basket of cards with yellow ribbons attached to them was available to anyone who wanted to pick them up. The 500 cards and ribbons were made by Mike’s friends and had a message: If you need to, ask for help.

The cards spread across the United States. Within a few weeks, calls began to appear. A teacher from another state had received one of the cards from a student, asking for help. Several letters came from teenagers seeking help.

The yellow ribbon was chosen as a symbol of the program that encourages those with suicidal thoughts to seek help.

In 2003, WHO established September 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day, and Mike’s mustang yellow is the color chosen to represent this feeling.

Dialogue and media

Suicide is not news. This is in journalism books. The reason is the fear of causing the so-called “Werther effect”. This phenomenon got its name from the book “The sufferings of the young Werther”, a book by the German author Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1774. At the end of the book, which has a depressive tone, the young Werther commits suicide, which led to a supposed wave of suicides among young Europeans at the time.

The Werther effect has been scientifically proven and is called “imitation suicide”. Suicides become more common when reported by the media. For example, after the suicide deaths of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 and Kurt Cobain in 1994, American suicide rates have increased markedly.

That is why the World Health Organization advises against the media exposing suicide methods or processes: to prevent this exposure from encouraging other deaths.

However, suicides are not caused  by news or video. People who killed themselves when they saw this kind of thing already had tendencies before watching and were in the risk group. People with depression , suicidal thoughts, schizophrenia or several other untreated mental illnesses are vulnerable to the Werther effect.

Talking about the subject is extremely important precisely so that we can reduce the number of vulnerable people. In order for us to avoid suicide, dialogue is the first step. Talk, bring up the subject and let these people know that they are not alone and that there are ways to treat these diseases.

Life Valuation Center (CVV)

The center for valuing life has been recognized as a Federal Public Utility since the 1970s. It is a non-profit and philanthropic organization that seeks to provide emotional support and suicide prevention to those in need. Since 2015, it is possible to contact them by phone, free of charge.

Just call 188. The service is anonymous and carried out by volunteers who keep confidentiality. It is also possible to access the  online chat , send an e-mail  or go to one of the physical service stations .

The Yellow September was conceived by CVV in 2015 and the chosen month is September as it is the same month as World Suicide Prevention Day, held on September 10.

What is suicide?

Suicide is the act of ending your own life. It is always a complex event. The person does not have the goal of death, but the end of the suffering he is going through and the only way he sees at the moment to get there is through death.

This suffering can have several natures: guilt, remorse, depression, anxiety , fear, humiliation, among others.

If you are thinking about taking your own life, know that you are not alone and that there are ways to overcome suffering.

In general, suicides are planned and people show signs. They warn and ask for help in conscious and unconscious ways. Recognizing these signs and offering support can prevent an attempt and start a way of overcoming suffering.

Risk factors

There are certain risk factors that increase the chances of someone having suicidal thoughts and attempts. Are they:

  • Previous attempts;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Be between 15 and 35 years old or over 75 years old;
  • History of family suicide;
  • Lack of social and family ties;
  • Terminal or disabling diseases;
  • Unemployment;
  • Social decline;
  • Divorce;
  • Continued stress.

In addition, risk factors are:

Monetary extremes

Studies show that people with a lot of money problems or with too much money are more likely to attempt suicide.

In the case of those who have serious financial problems, the problem is obvious, the lack of money causes stress . For those who have a lot of money, the feeling that there is a lot to lose can also be a stressor.

Mental disorders

Naturally, mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia are risk factors for suicide. The most common suicide mental disorder is bipolar personality disorder.

Men kill themselves more, but women try harder

The genre of suicide is a sensitive subject. Death by suicide is 2 times more frequent in men than in women, but women try 2 times more than men. This means that women are more affected by suicide than men, but the methods chosen by the male sex are more lethal, which makes them die more frequently as a result of the attempts despite women trying harder.

How to ask for help?

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If you are thinking about suicide, it is important to ask for help. Talk to someone close, tell people what goes through your head. Having someone to talk to makes all the difference.

If you don’t have anyone close to you to talk to, don’t hesitate to call 188 and talk to one of the volunteers at the Centro de Valorização da Vida. They are there for you and can understand what you are going through.

What not to do if someone close to you has thoughts of suicide?

It is not always easy to know what to do when someone close to you reveals thoughts of suicide, but know that if this happens, that person is opening up to you and that is an important step towards improvement. If this happens, or if you notice warning signs in someone close to you, there are some things you should not do.

Condemn

Don’t judge the person. You don’t know what she is going through and she is asking for help, so try not to disappoint her. To say that suicide is cowardice or weakness is neither true nor helpful.

Trivialize

Remember that the way we feel is different for everyone. What the person with suicidal thoughts is feeling is his alone and if he is leading him to feel that way, it is because he is serious.

Also remember that suicide is extremely complex and cannot be attributed solely to one event, but to several factors. Do not trivialize any of them.

Give opinion

Suicidal thoughts are not a matter of opinion. Saying that it is “lack of God” or that the person “wants to draw attention” does not help, it only gets worse.

To fight

Suicidal thoughts are a symptom and not a choice. Making the person feel guilty only makes the situation worse.

Incentive phrases

Telling the person to “think positive” or that “life is good” does not help. The person with suicidal thoughts may feel even worse for not being able to feel better, thinking that it is their fault, when it is not.

How to help?

If you notice suicide warning signs or someone close to you for help, some things can help.

Listen

Find an appropriate and private place and listen to what the person has to say. Let her know that you are there to listen and support and listen . This is not the time to offer practical solutions, but to listen and be there for the person, giving them the certainty that they are not alone.

Encourage her to seek professional help

Opening up to someone close is an important first step, but professional help makes a big difference and is where you can start treatment. Offer to accompany the person on an appointment.

Keep in touch

Follow the person, keep in touch and stay close. Be there for the person and support them in their illness and treatment.

In case of crises

If you think the person is in danger of getting hurt at the moment, contact emergency professionals and seek care, or consult a person’s family member to make sure they are safe.

Warning signs

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There is a myth that the person with suicidal thoughts shows no signs, but that is not true and those close to him can see it. It is extremely rare for a suicide to occur without signs. This list shows some of these warnings, but they should not be considered in isolation.

There is no sure way to identify someone in a suicide crisis, but detecting these warnings can be the difference between life and death. Remember that, especially if many of them show up at the same time, you can talk to the person about suicide, which can help.

Be understanding. These indicators are not threats or blackmail, but warnings. Talk to the person and encourage them to seek professional help.

Concern about death itself

When a concern for one’s own death comes up suddenly, it can be a sign. Negative visions, ideas expressed in writing, speaking or drawing, can mean that the person is thinking about suicide.

Suicidal comments and intentions

Comments like the following can be signs of suicidal thoughts:

  • “I’m going to disappear”;
  • “I wanted to never wake up again”;
  • “I will leave you alone”;
  • “It is useless to try to change, I just want to kill myself”.

Pay attention if any of these comments appear, especially if their frequency increases.

Isolation

People with suicidal thoughts tend to isolate themselves, not taking phone calls or canceling events and activities, even those they used to enjoy doing. Pay particular attention if any insulation appears suddenly. Even naturally more introverted people can demonstrate this sign.

Get rid of objects

A sign that usually appears when a person is about to commit suicide is to give away several personal and important objects. If a friend with depression or other signs suddenly decides to give you a collection of books, a video game, something of value, disposing of personal objects, talk to this person, offer help, encourage contact with professionals and, if necessary, contact family or professionals yourself.

Sudden tranquility

Another emergency sign is tranquility and sudden happiness. If someone with severe depression suddenly looks very happy, those around him may think that the person is improving when in fact this is an alarming sign.

When someone with thoughts of suicide decides that they are going to proceed with a suicide plan, the feeling that their problems will resolve can take a heavy weight off their back, which appears as tranquility and happiness. This person needs urgent care.

Suicide myths

There are some myths on the topic that hinder health professionals and increase the risk of people with suicidal thoughts being left without help. Keeping these things in mind can help you know which myths about suicide can be harmful.

Who threatens does not

Usually, people do not commit suicide without warning. They communicate their intention before the act, sometimes playfully, sometimes seriously, but rarely without warning. So it is important to realize that threats of suicide can be serious.

Suicides do not seek help

People with suicidal thoughts do seek help. Ending one’s own life is a desperate measure, when the person believes he has no option to end his suffering.

Suicide survivors are safe

On the contrary, the chances of someone attempting suicide after a failed attempt are greater than before. Recovering from a suicide attempt is a time to pay attention to the patient.

Suicide should not be talked about

On the contrary, talking about suicide is ideal. Talking to someone who has suicidal thoughts about the act will not cause the person to kill himself, but open space for dialogue and information that can make all the difference and save a life.

There is no way to prevent

You can prevent it at any time. Even if the decision has already been made by the person who suffers. There is always a way to prevent it and there is always possible treatment to alleviate psychological suffering.

Whoever plans to kill himself wants to kill himself

Those who plan a suicide do not want to end their own lives, but rather with the pain and suffering that causes these thoughts to arise. Nobody wants to end life simply because they don’t want it anymore.

Improved mood means giving up suicide

As we have already talked about warning signs, a significant and sudden improvement in mood can be a sign that the person has made the decision to end his or her own life. The conflict seems to be resolved and it gives the person a sense of relief, so it is important to seek help.

Whoever commits suicide is weak

This is one of the most problematic myths about suicide, especially as it helps to fuel the idea that psychological illnesses are not illnesses.

Suicide is someone who suffers a lot and cannot see hope. It has nothing to do with strength or weakness and saying it only gets worse.


The vast majority of suicide deaths can be prevented and dialogue on the subject is the best way to do this. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, ask for help.

Share this text with your friends so that the dialogue about suicide will spread even more and we can avoid these deaths of people who deserve to live!

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