Why is September yellow?

The yellow color of September is to encourage suicide prevention. Why was that tone chosen? How important is awareness on this issue?

Last update: 10 September, 2022

Every September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day takes center stage on the public health scene. Supported by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO), The day aims to raise awareness about this great problem. Now, why is there talk of a yellow September?

Beyond the day itself, the initiatives usually extend throughout this month. Various governmental and non-governmental organizations organize programs and plans that spread the idea of ​​suicide prevention. As well as providing tools for people to have resources if they are going through depression.

The motto for this year 2022 is as follows: “Create hope through action”. This phrase for yellow September commits us all to act to prevent deaths that can be prevented.

Why is there a yellow September?

The history of the choice of color and the reason for yellow September is a painful one. It dates back to 1994, when the program yellow ribbon (“yellow tape” in Spanish) took shape through the action of family and friends of Mike Emme.

Mike was 17 years old when he took his own life. He was a car enthusiast and used to work on car restoration. His latest project was a 1968 Ford Mustang that he had found in disrepair.

Mike bought the car, fixed it up, and after restoring it, painted it a vibrant yellow. One day when his parents returned home, the Mustang was parked outside, but the young man had committed suicide.

Inside the house, the parents found a note that read: “Don’t blame yourselves mom and dad, I love you. Love, Mike, 11:45 p.m.. Unfortunately, the adults had arrived only 7 minutes later and it was already too late to do something.



The initiative

At the funeral of young Mike Emme, the entire community was shocked. Several of his friends attended and wanted to comfort the parents, asking how they could help.

The parents, with great integrity, told the other young people the following:

Please don’t kill yourself, seek help.

~Mike Emme’s mother~

Taking that advice, several members of the community captured the phrase on yellow paper, in memory of Mike’s Mustang. In turn, they wrote down help phone numbers there to call when thinking about suicide.

The yellow September had begun and the papers were more and more. They were distributed in public offices, they were taken to schools, the young people began to carry them in their backpacks. Little by little, color was associated with the possibility of preventing an event as tragic as suicide.

The initiative expanded, from the United States, taking on the color yellow to raise awareness around the world.

Some relevant facts about suicide

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), There are 703,000 people in the world who take their own lives every year.. With the added seriousness that it is already the fourth cause of death in the group of young people between 15 and 29 years old.

In the United States, for example, the figures are alarming. It is the second cause of death between 10 and 34 years old, with an approximate frequency of 132 suicides every day.

The circulating myth that suicide is a problem only in high-income countries is just that: a myth. Actually, if we take the latest trends, over 70% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income areas.

But there is something else that is not usually seen. The statistic registers completed suicides with more fidelity than attempted ones. Behind every person who takes their own life, there are several who have tried and failed. And it is very possible that they will try again.

It is also a myth that only those who do not give warnings and do so without announcing it commit suicide. Attempts are recognized as risk factorsbecause there is a high possibility that this person will try to commit suicide in the future.



Can suicide be prevented?

The central idea of ​​yellow September is to prevent suicide and reduce its incidence. The initiatives aim to create awareness about the issue so that people have support and someone to refer to in times of greatest distress.

Two situations are recognized in suicidal behavior and on both it is possible to act preventively. They are the following:

  • Suicide attempt: the person attempts to cause death, but fails. There may or may not be injuries after the act.
  • suicidal ideation: the person has recurring thoughts about how they would commit suicide. He can even prepare some things or scenarios in which he would take his own life.

Recognition of any of these situations requires immediate action. If it is a relative or a friend who detects it, you should do everything possible so that the person receives specialized professional help.

In this sense, almost every country has developed a suicide prevention agency. There is usually a phone number available to call for advice on what to do next.

Suicidal ideation is a warning. The person will try to commit suicide at some point and it must be prevented.

help lines

Yellow September recognizes that, within preventive actions, government and NGO helplines are key. There, people who think about committing suicide can communicate, as well as family and friends who detect the behavior in close beings.

The helpline is staffed by people trained to achieve the following objectives:

  • Engage in a conversation of support and containment. The person with attempted suicide is in crisis, so he needs listening and adequate words.
  • Offer concrete help. The telephone operator will guide, depending on the geographical area, towards the armed networks in the territory to contain the person, whether these are public or private institutions.
  • Deliver mental health resources. On the call, the operator can apply some relaxation and active listening techniques to dissuade the person from attempting suicide.
  • Make a psychological appointment. If the case warrants it, the Helpline can immediately schedule a consultation with a mental health professional.

Yellow September is hope

The yellow of this September has to refer us to hope. We can reduce suicide cases in the world.

A simple action, such as distributing yellow papers with help numbers, could be enough. It is an act available to all that saves lives.

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