Myths About Suicide
Annually, roughly 48,000 individuals will complete suicide and 1.7 million people will make an attempt. In the United States, it is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10-34, and the fourth leading cause of death for those 35-44. For those experiencing
depression, the risk of suicide is 20 times higher. Misconceptions about mental health place a negative stigma on suicide, shaping
people's beliefs and attitudes.
Here are a few common myths surrounding suicide:
Myth: Talking about suicide increases the chance a person will act on it.
Truth: Opening up a conversation aids people in exploring alternative views to their circumstances. When we talk with loved ones about suicide we may actually reduce, rather than increase, suicidal ideation. These important conversations increase the likelihood that the individual will seek mental health treatment.
Myth: Talking about suicide is attention seeking behavior.
Truth: Oftentimes people who complete suicide previously told someone they didn’t want to live anymore. It is vital that we take these comments seriously and never assume that these statements are attention seeking. If someone mentions suicide always ask direct questions to clarify: “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” or “Do you have access to things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?”.
Myth: Suicide will always occur without warning signs.
Truth: Warning signs do typically precede suicide. Common warning signs may look like:
Talking about suicide, such as statements like “I wish I were dead”, “I wish I hadn’t been born”, or “I am going to kill myself”.
Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation.
Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
Giving away belongings with no logical explanation for doing so.
Withdrawing and wanting to be left alone.
Obtaining the means to complete suicide such as buying a gun or collecting pills.
Major changes in normal routines such as eating or sleep patterns.
Myth: Talk therapy and medications don’t work.
Truth: Seeking treatment can and does work. Finding the right treatment is often challenging and can take some time, but the right treatment will greatly reduce the risk of attempting or completing suicide.
It takes tremendous strength to reach out for help. Everyone can play a role in supporting those going through a crisis or bereaved by suicide regardless of whether you are a significant other, family member, or those with lived experience. If you have had thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 988. If you are in immediate danger, you can call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. (Center for Disease Control; CDC, 2023)