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Suicide Myths and Facts

Be AWARE of Suicide Myths & Facts

Myth: Talking to or asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts may trigger the act.

Fact:  Asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal can help lower anxiety, open up communication, and lower the risk of an impulsive act. Talking with the person can help you to determine whether or not s/he is seriously considering suicide.

Myth:  A person who talks about attempting suicide rarely follows through. He is probably just trying to get attention.

Fact:  Two-thirds talked about their intentions before attempting suicide. They are not crying wolf just to get attention. They are reaching out for help because they are experiencing overwhelming emotional pain. All suicidal statements should raise red flags, even if the person jokes about it. If someone you know has mentioned the desire to die by suicide, take him/her seriously and act immediately.

Myth:  Young people never think about suicide because they have their entire life ahead of them.

Fact:  Suicide does occur among young people. It is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. Sometimes children under 10 die by suicide. One of the problems is that the young person may talk about it or threaten it but people don’t take it seriously.

Myth:  There is really nothing you can do to help someone who is truly suicidal.

Fact:  Most people who are suicidal do not want to die. They are in psychological pain, and they want to stop the pain. Many people who are suicidal do reach out for help. More than half the victims of suicide seek medical attention in the months leading up to their death.

Myth:  Suicide always occurs without any warning signs.

Fact:  Most suicidal individuals (nearly 80%) plan their attempt in advance and give clues that it will happen. You may not always see warning signs when someone is suicidal. Any and all warning signs should be taken seriously.

Myth:  There is a typical profile for a person who may attempt suicide (gender, race, age, financial or educational status, etc).

Fact:  Depression/suicide can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity and socio-economic status.

Myth:  Anyone who tries to kill oneself is crazy, irrational or insane.

Fact:  Most people have fairly understandable reasons and/or life circumstances that contribute to their reason for feeling suicidal. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed/despairing, responding to a trauma or in overwhelming circumstances. This does not mean they are irrational or experiencing a mental illness. Anyone could attempt suicide.

Myth:  People who attempt suicide are weak.

Fact:  No, they are in psychological pain and may have a chemical imbalance in their brain. The need help and a renewed sense of hope.

Myth:  If someone is determined to take his or her life, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Fact:  Suicide can be prevented. Most people who are suicidal don’t want to die, they just want the pain and despair to stop, and this can lead to self-destructive and life-threatening actions. A large percentage of the people who call a hotline after taking possibly lethal action have changed their mind and want help.

Myth:  People who attempt suicide and survive will not attempt suicide again.

Fact:  People who attempt suicide and survive do, in fact, often make additional attempts.

Myth:  When people become suicidal, they will always be suicidal.

Fact:  Suicidal impulses don’t last forever. However, suicidal feelings can recur.

Myth:  When people who are suicidal feel better, they are no longer suicidal.

Fact:  Often times, spirits lift once the person has made up their mind to complete suicide and they have their plan in place, almost as if a large burden has been lifted off of them.

Myth:  There is little correlation between alcohol or drug abuse and suicide.

Fact:  Drugs and alcohol decrease a person’s inhibitions and increase a person’s impulsivity, increasing a person’s risk of suicide.

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