Authors: Bruno Rodrigues Lopes; Guilherme de Sousa Lima
NMO: IFMSA Brazil
According to the WHO, in the world, a person commits suicide every four seconds, representing 800,000 deaths per year, numbers higher than breast cancer or wars. In Brazil, there were 13,467 suicide cases in 2016. Among the 15 to 24 age group, suicide is the second leading cause of death, after car accidents. And from 15 to 19 years old, it was the second leading cause of death among girls and the third leading cause of death among boys .
The state of Piauí has one of the highest suicide rates in Brazil, reaching 10.1 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants in 2016, 84% above the national average. In the capital, Teresina, 73% of the occurrences were with black people and young people . It can be inferred that the most affected population are young people with low income from high school and university.
In this location, protection and prevention programs are necessary, due to their great impact, going beyond the field of mental health. At the macro-social level, suicide contributes to socioeconomic losses, given that a large part of the victims belongs to the economically active group.
At the IFMSA Brasil, through the local committee at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI), the project “Meus Sinais” to promote awareness about mental health, suicide prevention and appreciation of the lives of high school students in the city of Teresina. The project involved a partnership with psychologists who both facilitated contact with schools and trained and helped the volunteers to carry out the activities.
The first project activity took place in November 2019 and featured diversified activities for students, such as yarning circles, thematic exposition, play sessions and practices related to the main causes of suicidal ideation, such as depression, anxiety and bullying. In addition, activities were developed with the teachers and parents of these students, focusing on the relationship and support for adolescents, how they could recognize signs of mental illness in the young person and what they could do about it. The event involved approximately 100 people, including students, volunteers, teachers, school staff, parents and professionals.
The result was fabulous, with many students opening up to share personal situations, generating many exciting moments and a network of mutual support in each group of students. The experience proved to be valuable, especially for the students, who showed joy and satisfaction with the moment that was provided to them.
An impact assessment was applied with 10 objective questions, graded on a scale of 1 to 5, that could measure the quality of the moment provided, such as 1) motivation to improve mental health; 2) openness to talk about anxiety and depression; 3) information on places to seek help and the results close to 5 showed the great impact.
“Meus Sinais” proved to be important to raise awareness of an age group prone to suicide, in order to increase their autonomy from it and contribute to prevention in a location with high suicide rates.
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