5 Myths About Suicide

Learn about the myths surrounding suicide, seeking attention, and potential warning signs.

5 Myths About Suicide

By Depression Connect StaffA Published at June 12 Views 4,681 Comments 1

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the national suicide prevention lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255.

Suicide can be a taboo topic that people are afraid to talk about. Because of that fear, many myths exist about why people kill themselves and how to help suicidal individuals before it is too late. Here’s the truth about 5 of these myths.

Myth: Talking about it will make it worse

According to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health Office of Suicide Prevention, talking about suicide is the first step to encouraging a suicidal person to choose life. If you are concerned that someone may be contemplating suicide, it is OK to ask them if they are. This opens up a dialog and will allow you to then take the appropriate steps to help that person, like calling a suicide crisis line or encouraging them to seek counseling.

Myth: If you talk about suicide you're not suicidal

Not everyone who is suicidal is withdrawn. Depression comes in many forms, and even people with seemingly outgoing personalities can have suicidal thoughts. Sometime a person might joke about suicide, or talk about it openly. This may be a plea for help. Some people talk like this when they are nearing an attempt to kill themselves. If this happens, ask if the person has a plan to kill him or herself and then reevaluate if you need to get help based on the answer.

Myth: There are no warning signs

Sometimes the people left behind after a suicide, like family and friends, say they had no idea the person was suicidal. Most suicidal people, however, show signs that they are contemplating killing themselves. They might make failed attempts, give away their belongings, or have major changes in sleep patterns and eating habits. They may have emotional outbursts of crying or anger, or show apathy toward themselves and others. Suicidal people may leave a person they trust with a note that is not to be opened until a later date. If someone entrusts you with a note like that and you think they may be suicidal, it is OK to open it against your friend's wishes. Doing so could save their life.

Myth: Suicidal people just want attention

Even if the person's plan sounds ridiculous and likely won't work, the idea behind it is what you need to be concerned about. That person has the intention of killing him or herself, and it's not a trivial matter. Never dismiss a suicidal person's actions as just being an attempt to get attention. Give that individual your full consideration and you might be saving his or her life.

Myth: If they've failed once they won't try again

Some people think a person who attempted suicide but failed will not try again. This is absolutely not true. They clearly have the intent to commit suicide, and may do so by other means or even a method similar to their first attempt.

If you or someone you love is suicidal, reach out for help or seek counseling from a local suicide crisis hotline or therapist.

For more on depression and suicide:

Robin Williams: Depression and Suicide
When You Don’t Think You Can Keep Going
5 Little-Known Symptoms of Depression

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