Millions of people across the world are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it is not always taken as seriously as physical health concerns. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
For the foreigners living in Pattaya we hear of so many foreigners falling from balconies it is almost as frequent as road deaths.
Thailand’s national suicide rate has risen eleven percent since the pandemic began, according to figures released by the Thai Ministry of Health. The increase has been from 4,581 to 5,085 individual cases. The World Health Organization says that Thailand has 14.4 suicides per 100,000 people compared to 5.3 in Cambodia and 3.2 in the Philippines.
What can we do to safeguard our health and mortality?
There are three types of stress:
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are three different types of stress, and each can take a toll on our bodies. They include:
- Acute stress – We experience acute stress multiple times each day. It can occur when there is a challenge, a perceived threat or when something unexpected happens- examples include: giving a speech, arguing with a spouse, getting stuck in traffic or getting a speeding ticket. The symptoms of acute stress develop quickly and do not last long.
- Episodic acute stress – This occurs when we frequently experience acute stress and can develop as a result of taking on too much responsibility or being overburdened. they occur more often and accumulate. If not managed properly, symptoms can lead to serious health problems such as clinical depression or heart disease.
- Chronic stress- The APA defines chronic stress as stress that is constant and persists over an extended period of time. It is the most harmful type of stress to our overall health. Symptoms of chronic stress can become overwhelming or debilitating. Chronic stress left untreated for a long period of time can have serious consequences and lead to health problems such as insomnia, obesity, heart disease, hypertension or diabetes.
Every year 703 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally in 2019.
Suicide does not just occur in high-income countries, but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world. In fact, over 77% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2019.
Suicide is a serious public health problem; however, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multi-sector suicide prevention strategy is needed.
When it all seems too much try these tips:
1. Stop – become aware of the fact that you are feeling stressed and give yourself a time out. When you are stressed it’s because you may be confronted with a problem/s. You may not able to find a solution in that exact moment.
2. Talk – talk to someone, a therapist, your employer, a friend or family member, don’t suffer in silence and bottle things up. Other people may be able to help and support you.
3. Breathe – slowing down your breath can help you slow down your mind, which will make you more able to deal with stressful situations. Meditation could be your savior!
4. Exercise – start small, go for a brisk walk or a short jog initially. If there’s an exercise you did previously, maybe pick that up again. You can also speak to your GP who can consult you on what may be the best thing for you.
5. Have fun! – call someone and do something you enjoy. Anything from being in nature, going to the cinema or booking your next flight!
A silver lining? A different viewpoint:
Some pandemic changes lessened stress
Experts and others worried that unemployment and financial strain would put new burdens on many Americans. While that is certainly true for some, pandemic-related changes may have actually reduced stressors of a large portion of the population, particularly those who were already struggling with mental health issues.
Children were no longer at school with their bullies. Employees were no longer forced to work next to toxic coworkers. People who hated their jobs suddenly had a reason to stop working. Even if it made for challenging financial situations, that may have been preferable to many.
April is suicide awareness month around the world so get out and about and talk. And if you are a listener be just that; a non-judgmental listener.
RIP Thomas Johnston 2006 xxx