The importance of Yellow September and suicide prevention in Brazil

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(Ángel López, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Ridson Guilherme Parente de Aguiar and Francisco Emanoel Albuquerque de Souza Júnior, medical students at Christus University Center (UNICHRISTUS). They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Suicide is associated with poor mental health, since it goes against the survival instinct of the human being. It is taking place in Brazil and in the world. This state of mental health can be caused by the association of several factors, such as genetic predisposition, personal problems, low adherence to treatment, as well as the lack of help. However, there is still the idea that suicide and the associated pathologies are “to draw attention”, or that those who need psychologists and psychiatrists are “crazy” or “weak”, contributing to not all people seeking help.

However, despite this prejudice still experienced, these people need to be strong and seek help because, as Augusto Cury said, “No one can hurt you more than you can hurt yourself”. Given this worrying situation in Brazil, it is important to expand the dissemination of volunteer projects that provide help to these people, in addition to reinforcing the awareness of the importance of performing therapy.

In this context, since 2015, there has been the “Yellow September” campaign, held in Brazil, with the aim of preventing suicide. It is an initiative of the Centro de Valorização da Vida (CVV), the Federal Council of Medicine (FCM) and the Brazilian Association of Psychiatry (BAP). This movement occurs in the month of September and, therefore, has the name “Yellow September”.

The choice of the month is due to the proximity of the World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), and the yellow color is due to Dale Emme and Darlene Emme who started a yellow ribbon campaign after their son Mike committed suicide with a yellow car. This campaign disseminates the theme, alerts the population about suicide, as well as aims to create events that open debates on the theme, also using the color yellow for dissemination. It is worth mentioning that during the campaign, public places are usually illuminated with the yellow light, like Christ the Redeemer.

In fact, Yellow September is a major step towards suicide prevention, but it is important to increase access to mental health services. However, the search for psychological and psychiatric treatment is still viewed with prejudice by some people in society, who believe that only the crazy or the weak need therapies; however, these are fundamental, because they allow self-knowledge and maturation, as well as dialogue with a professional specialized in that care, allowing the patient to vent about their problems.

The first step in this direction is the training of more qualified professionals, as well as a greater incentive during medical studies. It is also necessary to make services more accessible to the population and reduce both archaic prejudice and the stigma that exist for people seeking psychotherapy or psychiatric services. This prejudice can be reduced by increasing information about the topic. Thus, it is necessary to intensify the debate on the subject in the Church, School and civil society, so that it can be discussed, and its taboos can be mitigated.

About the author

Ridson Guilherme Parente de Aguiar and Francisco Emanoel Albuquerque de Souza Júnior are medical students at Christus University Center (UNICHRISTUS) and members of the International Federation of Medical Students of Brazil (IFMSA-BRAZIL).

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