Addressing Common Misconceptions About Suicide
Tied to the many stigmas and stereotypes people often associate with suicide–most prevalent among them being the beliefs that suicide is a sign of weakness, that it is a sign of selfishness, that the person must be “crazy,” and that they just want attention–are the economic, religious, and social biases that further victimize those who are already experiencing severe distress or some form of behavioral health disorder.
Some of the most common myths and misconceptions people have about suicide include:
Talking to someone about suicide may give them the idea.
False. A person who is experiencing a traumatic loss, emotional crisis, or behavioral health problem is already depressed and may already be having self-destructive thoughts or practicing life-threatening behavior. Talking to them about these thoughts and feelings creates an immediate connection that grounds them and provides them with an outlet for their fears and other emotions. Asking someone if they are thinking about harming themselves may save their life.
Anyone who tries to kill themself is irrational or insane.
False. Most people have understandable reasons or life circumstances that contribute to their basis for feeling suicidal. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, responding to a trauma or overwhelming circumstances, etc., but that does not necessarily mean they are irrational or experiencing a behavioral health disorder.
The majority of people who complete suicide are uneducated and impoverished.
False. According to the US Census, well-educated Caucasian men who are middle aged and older account for the largest numbers of suicides in the United States.
People who talk about suicide don’t usually do it, they just want attention.
False. According to research, as many as 75 percent of the people who commit suicide do or say something to indicate their state of mind and intentions before they act. If a person has to go to the extreme of threatening to do themselves bodily harm or commit suicide, it is not that they want attention, but that they need it.
If someone is determined to take their own life, there is nothing you or I can do about it.
False. Suicide is an ambivalent act with anywhere from 20 to 100 attempts (depending on age, sex and other circumstances) for every completion. Most people who attempt suicide do not want to die, they want their pain to stop, and that can lead to self-destructive and life-threatening acts. The vast majority of people who call suicide hotlines after taking a potentially lethal action change their minds as their situation deteriorates, ultimately asking for help.
Awareness makes everything better. The more we know about suicide, the more we can help someone who is struggling or in danger. To learn more, visit: Blue KC Suicide Prevention & Awareness
The Samaritans. Retrieved from: https://samaritansnyc.org/myths-about-suicide/