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AMSA International is thrilled to have the privilege of sending delegates to WHO RC (World Health Organization Regional Committee) Meetings annually. The most recent one, the 75th WHO RC Meeting for SEARO (South-East Asia Region), was held from 5-9 September 2022 in Paro, Bhutan. The delegates representing AMSA International were keen to organise a parallel event in conjunction with the aforementioned meeting, with the aim to showcase the insights they acquired. Click [HERE] to read a recap of the meeting!
This year’s WHO RC Meeting for SEARO raises mental health awareness as a major topic of discussion, which drove our decision to adopt this topic as the theme for the event. During the course of this event, the topic of self-harming and suicide prevention is spotlighted, giving rise to the title of our parallel event: RISE UP! (Raising Awareness for Self-Harming and Suicide Prevention).
RISE UP! Social Campaign took place mainly on Instagram and spans over the course of four days from 13 to 16 October 2022. This campaign successfully garnered 183 respondents coming from more than 29 different countries around the globe taking part as volunteers, with 64.5% coming from Indonesia, followed by more than 10% from India. The rest come from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Nepal, among many others. More than half of the participants are AMSA members, whereas up to one thirds are non-AMSA medical students. About 5% are medical or healthcare workers, while more than 4% are non-medical students nor workers within the healthcare sector.
To kick start the campaign, the volunteers had the opportunity to be acquainted with fellow global volunteers as they introduced and got to know each other via the WhatsApp group. On the first day of the campaign, the volunteers shared infographics via their Instagram Story to quiz and educate their viewers about the myths or facts regarding self-harming and suicide. The aim of this activity is to bring awareness and sensitivity as well as shattering the stigma towards the topic, as it may be deemed as ‘taboo’ in many different societal norms and cultures.
Following the first day, the volunteers had the chance to explore and express their thoughts as they are “put” in the shoes of responders and health workers working with people with suicide ideation through “What Would You Do?” case studies. Afterwards, an information ion where and how to offer help when meeting people with self-harming and suicidal tendencies is shared. We witnessed beautiful thoughts that showed great empathy and kindness towards such situations.
“Be a good listener for her, she needs a person who can listen to all her burdens and stories without any judgments, while constantly showing empathy. Give her the support she needs, reassure her that she is not alone.” – @aliyyanabs
On the third day, the volunteers are prompted to share what they do to cope with stress and problems to prevent harmful thinking patterns.
To round up the event, an Instagram Live under the theme “Creating Hope through Action: Your Part in Self-Harming and Suicide Prevention” was held on Saturday, 16 October 2022 as we chat with two esteemed speakers who are experts in their field, namely Prof. Dr. Saroj Prasad Ojha from the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital Nepal and Ms. Mahima Gupta from Sisters Living Works, an NGO in India that provides advocation towards suicide prevention.
To end off the experience, the volunteers shared a personal summary on the insights they have acquired during the social campaign. AMSA International is deeply pleased to hear positive feedback from the volunteers, including one of which:
“A lot of new knowledge I learned through this campaign. I learned that anyone could be suffering with self harm and dealing with suicidal thoughts. In the time you are reading this text, someone out there in this world is ending their own life. I learned how talking about self harm and suicide is still a very taboo thing, ironically in reality, people who suffer with self harm and suicide ideation mostly need people to talk with and someone to reach for help. Stigmas about how ‘people who self harm are just attention seekers’ or people who are dealing with suicidal thoughts are just weak people’ are some of many other negative stigma about this. Due to that negative stigma people who are trying to reach out are silenced. By joining this campaign I became more aware that in order to end this stigma, we all need to work together. Being more aware, identifying the signs, being more empathetic and sharing positive insights are some ways we can do to help shatter the stigma!” – @c.rae.zy_rachel
As Nishant Seth, the moderator of RISE UP!’s Instagram Live said, “Even as individuals, the small efforts you make to take care of your mental health, look out for your friends and family, and make them feel seen and heard, come together to make a big difference. With your efforts, we spark open conversations and shatter the stigma around these pressing issues of suicide and self-harm.” We hope that this social campaign inspired and triggered the volunteers to be more aware of the surroundings, take action in denouncing the stigma against self-harming and suicide, take preventive actions against self-harming and suicide, and raise awareness around mental health topics.
Shatter all of the stigma, together we fight and win the battle to RISE UP towards a better future.
Charlotte Lintang Kinasih
Liaison Officer to Governmental Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LOGONGO)
AMSA International 2022/2023