Suicide is a complex issue. There is a lot of inaccurate information around suicide but understanding some of the facts can help you to help someone struggling to cope.
Debunking myths about suicide can hopefully allow individuals to look at suicide from a different angle - one of understanding and compassion for someone who is internally struggling. Maybe they are struggling with a mental illness or maybe they are under extreme pressure and do not have healthy coping skills or a strong support system.
Suicide happens to other people.
Suicide does not discriminate. It could happen in your family. It could happen to you or your loved one.
Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.
Warning signs - verbally or behaviorally - precede most suicides.
Therefore, it’s important to learn and understand the warnings signs associated with suicide. Many individuals who are suicidal may only show warning signs to those closest to them. These loved ones may not recognise what’s going on, which is how it may seem like the suicide was sudden or without warning.
People who talk about suicide aren't serious and won't go through with it.
People who take their own lives have often told someone that they do not feel life is worth living or that they have no future. Some may have actually said they want to die.
It's possible that someone might talk about suicide as a way of getting attention – this 'cry for help' is a warning sign and can provide a chance for family, friends, colleagues, health professionals to intervene.
It's important to always take someone seriously if they talk about feeling suicidal. Helping them get the support they need could save their life.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die - they do not want to live the life they have.
People who are suicidal want to die.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they do not want to live the life they have. The distinction may seem small but is very important. It's why talking through other options at the right time is so vital.
People who say they are going to take their own life are just attention seeking and shouldn't be taken seriously.
People who say they want to end their lives should always be taken seriously.
It may well be that they want attention and this is their call for help. Helping them get support may save their life.
People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
Typically, people do not die by suicide because they do not want to live - people die by suicide because they want to end their suffering.
These individuals are suffering so deeply that they feel helpless and hopeless. Individuals who experience suicidal ideations do not do so by choice. They are not simply, “thinking of themselves,” but rather they are going through a very serious mental health symptom due to either mental illness or a difficult life situation.
You have to be mentally ill to think about suicide.
1 in 5 people have thought about suicide at some time in their life. And not all people who die by suicide have mental health problems at the time they die.
However, many people who take their own lives do suffer with their mental health, typically to a serious degree. Sometimes it's known about before the person's death and sometimes not.
Most suicides happen in the winter months.
Suicide is complex, and it's not just related to the seasons and the climate being hotter or colder, and having more or less light. In general, suicide is more common in the spring, and there's a noticeable peak in risk on New Year's Day.
If a person is serious about killing themselves then there's nothing you can do.
Often, feeling actively suicidal is temporary, even if someone has been feeling low, anxious or struggling to cope for a long period of time. This is why getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important.
Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.
Active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation-specific. Studies have shown that approximately 54% of individuals who have died by suicide did not have a diagnosable mental health disorder. And for those with mental illness, the proper treatment can help to reduce symptoms.
The act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing. Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life.
Talking about suicide is a bad idea as it may give someone the idea to try it.
Often people who have felt suicidal say that talking about how they are feeling is a big relief. Reaching out can save a life.
Suicide can be a taboo topic. Often, people who are feeling suicidal don't want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel and so they don't discuss it. But, by asking someone directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing.
Once someone starts talking they've got a better chance of discovering options that aren't suicide.
Evidence shows asking someone if they're suicidal can protect them. They feel listened to, and hopefully less trapped. Their feelings are validated, and they know that somebody cares about them.
As a society, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, to speak up about mental illness or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. There are suicide hotlines, mental health support groups, online community resources and many mental health professionals who can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions.