MYTHS. The myths that surround suicide often prevent us from even intervening, believing that it is an unstoppable act or that if we say anything it will make it worse.
TRUTHS. True and proven facts allow us to see suicide at face value and they help us realize there is a chance for intervention and plenty of room for hope in even the darkest situation.
Myth - There is no way to tell if someone is suicidal.
Truth - Most suicidal people will show warning signs in one way or another during the week preceding. We will discuss these warning signs more tomorrow (or you can check out some here).
Myth - People who talk about suicide won't really do it and are just seeking attention.
Truth - Although each situation is different any mention of suicidal intent or thought should be taken seriously, because, in truth, they may attempt or complete an act of self harm or destruction.
Myth - Suicide is just a teenage problem.
Truth - Suicidal thoughts (or actions) can affect any age, race, and person type. The CDC shows us that ‘suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, the second among persons aged 25-34 years’. We also see females suicide rates the highest between ages 45-54 and males over 85 are actually at the highest risk. It is also important to note that most statistics only include deaths by suicide, but for each death there is an estimated 20 times as many attempts by others.
Myth - Once someone decides to die by suicide there is no stopping them.
Truth - Suicide is one of, if not, the most preventable causes of death. Research and personal testimonies show that a suicidal person is also in a state of ambivalence, simultaneously wanting to die and wanting to be saved. Almost any positive action can make a big difference.
Myth - Mentioning suicide to someone who is struggling will give them ideas, make them angry, or increase their risk.
Truth - Expressing your concern of suicidal intent and asking them about it is one of the best things you can do. It allows you both to discuss the issues openly and usually lowers anxiety. Also, if they are not currently suicidal they now know you can be counted on if they ever find themselves having those thoughts.
Myth - Only professionals (hotlines, counselors, doctors, etc.) can prevent suicide.
Truth - We can all play a role in preventing suicide. In fact, many professionals will only encounter a suicidal person when they are in the midst of crisis. However, those close to them may start to see warning signs much earlier and can provide a caring presence that connects them to further help.
As we mentioned talking about suicide can be a bit overwhelming at times, but the effect can be incredibly affective to break down stigma and ultimately save lives. We will discuss more this week about how to spot warning signs and start important conversations (Can’t wait? Check out the resources page). Do you have a personal story about how talking about suicide has broken down stigma or opened up safe communication? We’d love to hear it! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share this blog and return tomorrow for more on warning signs.
If you or someone you know are currently feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
If you want to learn more about spotting warning signs and starting conversations check out our growing resource page.