So the project I'd like to tell you all about is the Friendship Chain of Yarn. This is mostly going out the ladies in my knitting group who I have asked to participate so that they can have some more information rather than having to just rely on my uninformative mutterings BUT for anyone else who reads this and has access to Ravelry then there is a Rav group which will also give you a ton of info.
The basic premise of the project is thus:" In this Project we’ll be adding links in a round robin by mail to a single Chain, hoping to create the longest fiber chain in the world. Moderators and members will be using the Project to raise money, support, and awareness for suicide prevention, while making friends on the board."
So the idea is that each person knits or crochets another link in the chain. There are several mini chains out traveling the world at the moment which will all be returned to the group administrator who will in turn connect each of these pieces together to form one long chain.
It's hoped that this project will have a two fold impact- that not only that the knitters and crocheters that work on the project will come together as a group and form new friendships thus forming a human chain as well as a fiber based one, but that it will also be a useful tool in educating people about suicide. By that I mean all people, not just those at risk or who have been affected by it in some way already. Also there are many aspects to consider when thinking about suicides; from prevention, to helping those at immediate risk and dealing with the aftermath for those who are left behind.
There is a project blog that can be found HERE if you would like more detail. The following information is taken directly from the blog and is based from statistics from North America:
"More than 32,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It is this country's 11th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike these popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon. The factors that contribute to any particular suicide are diverse and complex, so our efforts to understand it must incorporate many approaches.""The above quote is taken from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website. Over 32,000 successful suicides take place each year in the United States alone. For myself, in the population group that I belong to (white females between the ages of 25-34), suicide was the third leading cause of death in the year in which the most recent statistics are available. It followed only accidents and malignant neoplasms. If I were older, the statistics would be almost as bad, as white females between the ages of 35-44 had suicide as the fourth leading cause of death.
In 2005, more than 17,000 people committed suicide by using a firearm, 31% of these were women. Each year, approximately 750,000 suicide attempts are made. An estimated 5 million living Americans have attempted suicide, and more females attempt suicide than males."
This is only part of a very long and informative post.
So that's the why of the project. From a personal perspective I am engaging in this project as it touches on a few experiences that I have had in my lifetime. I am fortunate not to have been confronted with anything firsthand as such, though if I think back over my life there are two instances that I would like to share with everyone here.
The first happened when I was very young- I must have been about 6. It is the first time I can remember being taken to London. We were standing on the platform of one of the old underground tube stations. I was holding my fathers hand and we were trying to spot a 'tube' mouse when an announcement came over the tannoy to say that the train would be delayed as there had been some kind of incident. I didn't understand what had happened until I overheard grown ups around us discussing it- it transpired that someone had committed suicide by throwing themselves in front of one of the trains further up the line.
For me this was my first experience, albeit a distant one, of suicide and to this day it remains a great reminder to me of the social impact that suicide has. Many of the people around me that day went into a kind of shock. I remember the quietness around us, the sudden cessation of movement and the way that my fathers hand gripped mine just a little bit tighter.
The second incident comes from my teenage years. I was 13 or 14 at the time when my grandmother died. At the time I didn't really understand so well what had happened. I was aware that she had committed suicide though in her case it was suicide by degrees. It was slow and for her, quite painful, but it was suicide nonetheless. For the family it was quite quick- she lost weight over a year and half which everyone thought was a good thing as she was a big lady and we were worried about her having heart problems. Then she got really thin over 3 months and suddenly it was obvious that something was wrong. The doctor diagnosed terminal lymphatic cancer. She passed away approximately six weeks later.
From the outside this may seem like a coincidence or maybe just an unfortunate occurrence but both myself and my parents believe that she knew she was dying and that she deliberately chose to keep her condition from all of us. Looking on her life I can now see why she made the decision and I believe that she thought she was doing it for a lot of good reasons. She loved her children and her grandchildren very much and I think one reason was that she was just trying to save us from the pain of watching her go through treatments and being in and out of hospital.
And so it is, that without much thought, I can think of two instances that have touched my life and remained with me. There are others which I won't share with you now but I do think it highlights just what wide ranging effects there can be, not only for the person directly involved but for those around them, distantly surrounding them and for society as a whole. I was shocked to read the facts and see the figures that are behind this project- not at the figures themselves but mostly at my own ignorance of them.
I will leave you with the following information which is taken from the MIND website:
"Although the overall rate of death by suicide is falling, more than 4,300 people still die by suicide in England and Wales each year. Many more suicide attempts are made. At least one person in every 100 who ends up in hospital after a suicide attempt will succeed within a year, and up to 5 per cent do so over the following decade. A study looking at figures for attempted suicides from several European countries, including the UK, suggests that the figures might be higher - possibly as many as 2 per cent of people who have attempted suicide will kill themselves within a year of the previous attempt. The study also found that about 7 per cent of people in the study died by suicide within the next decade. A British study found that women who have a history of deliberate self-harm (including overdose) are 15 times more likely to die by suicide compared with other women. The risk is particularly high during the 6 months following deliberate self-harm."