Archive for July, 2013

World Suicide Prevention Day

When is World Suicide Prevention Day?

World Suicide Prevention Day occurs every September 10th. The purpose is to raise awareness about the causes of suicide, as well as the subsequently devastating effects on the lives of others. This holiday also aims to increase awareness for resources available in the prevention of suicide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that suicide claims over one million lives worldwide every year.

Suicide Facts

Suicide is the number one type of preventable premature death. While suicide itself depends on the actions of individuals who commit it, there are many causes that lead to such consequences. Mental health illnesses, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are common causes. This is especially the case when mental health diseases are left untreated. Other causes of suicide are attributed to other events in life, such as despair and hopelessness that may be linked to a loss of a loved one, bullying, job losses or financial ruin.

Suicides are often highlighted in the news in industrialized nations – this can lead to the misconception that suicides are more prevalent in western countries. However, it’s this misconception that is partially to blame for suicides that happen in other parts of the world. Suicide happens everywhere; failure to acknowledge this fact only increases such incidents.

History

World Suicide Prevention Day was enacted by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in 2003. Since then, it has occurred every September 10th. WHO also recognizes this event and is a co-sponsor. Together, the two organizations have used this holiday as a tool to help prevent suicides around the world.

Since its establishment, World Suicide Prevention Day has given people the information needed to take action in their communities. While preventing suicide is a major key component, political action is also necessary in eliminating the stigma surrounding it. Since the founding of the holiday, WHO has worked even harder with national leaders of governments and organizations to change the way suicide is approached in communities.

Prevention and Observation

World Suicide Prevention Day isn’t so much a celebrated holiday; it’s more of a date designated for worldwide observation over this highly preventable cause of death. WHO and the IASP also utilizes this holiday as an opportunity to educate others about the facts as suicide. Many of these facts include techniques that help enable individuals fight against suicide, whether this applies to the prevention in others, or to the self.

The IASP also works hard to decrease stigma surrounding suicide. In many nations, suicide attempts are regarded as crimes, and patients are punished as such. However, the criminalization of suicide worsens the problem. Educating communities not to regard mental health issues as crimes may decrease the incidence of suicide.

For some individuals, World Suicide Prevention Day is also a date of reflection. Many people are affected by the aftermath of suicide every year. For every suicide there are victims that consist of family, friends and co-workers who are left behind in the wake of such tragedies. Recovering patients who may have once attempted suicide may also reflect on this holiday and savor the fact that they didn’t go through with the act.

World Ozone Layer Day

When is World Ozone Layer Day?

World Ozone Layer Day is held every September 16th. Also called the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, this holiday also commemorates the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. World Ozone Layer Day has become even more prevalent since the turn of the century, as the latest green movement has sparked public interest and education about the effects of human activities on the ozone layer.

Importance of the Ozone

The ozone layer is just one of the layers within Earth’s atmosphere. It is often considered one of the most important because it absorbs almost all of the medium-frequency ultra violet rays from the sun. This helps to preserve just about all life forms on Earth. First discovered in 1913 by physicists Henri Buisson and Charles Fabry, the ozone layer has since become a major feature of scientific studies on climate change.

The thickness of the ozone can vary depending on the time of year, as there are changes in proximity to the sun. However, modern scientists have discovered that this layer is depleting partially because of human activities, most of which are attributed to carbon emissions from industrialized nations. While the layer itself was discovered a century ago, much of the damage may have already be done. However, some scientists believe that reducing carbon emissions today may still reduce the depletion process.

History of the Holiday

One of the first public actions taken to help preserve the ozone was through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Leaders from 24 countries participated in this event on September 16, 1987. Subsequently, these leaders made promises to reform environmental impacts made by their countries.

The Montreal Protocol was a significant step towards public awareness and action to protect the ozone layer. However, it wasn’t until 1995 that the first International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer was celebrated. The United Nations General Assembly chose this date to coincide with the historic Montreal Protocol. This holiday is a global observance on the matter of the ozone.

Celebrations

Education and a call for action are the main forms of World Ozone Layer Day celebrations. Education is particularly important, considering the fact that action is virtually impossible if citizens don’t understand the importance of the ozone layer. Furthermore, the current state of the ozone and the possible consequences of its depletion are also important to understand. The U.N. as well as individual governments take the opportunity of this holiday to further educate people about this problem around the world.

Given the current state of the ozone layer, a call for action is also important. Environmental activists often organize demonstrations on September 16th to increase awareness and promote better actions to help decrease ozone depletion. While much of the damage is already done, decreasing the emission of green gases may still give the world a fighting chance.

The United Nations Environment Programme also enacts annual themes for this holiday. Past examples include “Save Life on Earth,” “Governance and Compliance at Their Best,” and “A Healthy Atmosphere – The Future We Want.” Many educational programs focus on these themes when celebrating World Ozone Layer Day.

There is no official symbol for World Ozone Layer Day. In some cases, the United Nations Environment Programme logo is used. Most often, however, people use symbols of the sun and the earth to represent this holiday. Other more graphic images of environmental destruction may be used to make a point about the importance of the ozone layer.

World Humanitarian Day

When is World Humanitarian Day?

World Humanitarian Day is observed annually on August 19th. Established by the General Assembly of the United Nations, this holiday is designed to celebrate the humanitarian efforts of citizens around the world – both past and present. It is also a time to encourage humanitarianism in future generations to help increase the likelihood of peace between nations.

Celebrating Humanitarianism

At its core, humanitarianism operates on empathy and kindness, as well as an inherent need to help others. While many humanitarians work secretly on their own, there are numerous groups and organizations that operate with multiple individuals striving for the same mission. Humanitarians have been historically responsible for conquering racism, sexism, oppression and hunger, as well as prejudices based on religion and ethnicity. The scope of the work varies, and many humanitarians risk their lives to help others – this is especially the case in war-torn regions. World Humanitarian Day aims to celebrate all of the individuals that make sacrifices on behalf of the greater good.

History

The concept of humanitarianism isn’t anything new, but World Humanitarian Day itself is a relatively new holiday. It was created in 2008 to coincide with one of humanitarianism’s most tragic dates. On August 19, 2003, a terrorist bombing at the Canal Hotel killed 22 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the U.N. Located in Baghdad, the Canal Hotel was also the United Nations headquarters in Iraq.

August 19, 2009 was the first official World Humanitarian Day. The General Assembly voted on the holiday in 2008 to celebrate all humanitarian volunteers and workers. While the date coincides with the Canal Hotel tragedy, the holiday really belongs to every single person who works at making a difference in the lives of others throughout the world. In fact, there is no designated logo for World Humanitarian Day because the United Nations hasn’t necessarily laid claim to it.

Celebrations & Observance

World Humanitarian Day is primarily a day of global observance. It is not a public holiday, so businesses and agencies aren’t expected to close on this day. However, some companies and organizations opt to celebrate the holiday by starting their own humanitarian causes.

Some humanitarian organizations take special pride in this holiday and participate in events that lead to increased public awareness of key issues affecting humanity. While many industrialized nations have come a long way in many aspects of humanitarianism, other countries significantly lag behind. Without educating the public about the undesirable circumstances of others, it’s hard to rally up support to help those in need. The need for humanitarian aid is stronger than ever as communities around the world are being flooded with refugees who seek better lives for their families.

To increase support for World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations has enacted annual themes. Past themes include “I Was Here”, which emphasized doing good deeds for others outside of your own space, whether it be a different home, city or country.

National Aviation Day

When is National Aviation Day?

National Aviation Day has been celebrated every year on August 19th since its enactment in 1939. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of aviation pioneer Orville Wright. Not only does this holiday represent the work done by Wright and his brother Wilbur, but it’s an all-encompassing holiday for every aspect of aviation. Americans take the time to celebrate the achievements made possible through the history of aircraft and passenger flights.

Aviation History

On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers made aviation history. Not only did they successfully fly an aircraft, but this was the first time that controllers were used to help navigate the plane. The airplane was in flight for a total of 12 seconds. While the plane traveled only 120 feet, this is the first flight completed with the revolutionary controllers.

These advances in aircraft technology quickly paved the way for other pioneers of the era looking to take to the skies, such as Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Controlled aircraft made commercial flights between set destinations possible, and the advances also forever changed the way the military operates.

Holiday Enactment

The idea for National Aviation Day was officially ordered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939. He chose August 19th because it was the same day as Orville Wright’s birthday. The aviation pioneer lived to see the date, as well as nine years beyond that. Roosevelt died in office April 1945.

At first, the date for National Aviation Day was controversial among some groups because the Wright brothers weren’t technically the first ones to experiment with airplanes. However, the brothers are credited with being the first to invent fixed flight wings that led to the creation of commercial and military aircraft. Despite the controversy, there’s no doubt that aviation wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of Orville and Wilbur Wright.  The lives of the two brothers are celebrated on a different holiday on December 17th called Wright Brothers Day.

Celebrations

National Aviation Day is primarily a day for reflection and celebration of the achievements in aviation, which is now considered a necessity in the global economy. It’s not a public holiday, so all government institutions stay open if the holiday falls on a weekday. If school is in session, teachers often prepare special lessons centered on the many pioneers in flight science and technology. Field trips to flight museums may also be in order on this day.

Some communities take the celebrations a step further by holding flight events. Others still may showcase old airplanes for the public to appreciate. The aviation industry and the Air Force are also particularly active in the holiday. Enthusiasts may display pictures of aircraft in recognition of National Aviation Day. In addition, the President issues an order for government buildings to wave the American flag every August 19th.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is an understandably popular spot on this holiday. Many residents in the surrounding area as well as tourists visit the memorial on August 19th to pay tribute to the Wright brothers and their contributions to aviation.