Myths about suicide
Myths about suicide
Mythical beliefs, or myths about suicide, can be very, very destructive to those who are at risk of ending their lives. Myths contribute to misunderstandings and can also be very detrimental for those of whom the person (who is contemplating or seriously planning on ending their life) knows. Below is a list of myths surrounding suicide:
Myth 1: People who end their lives (or who try to) have a psychiatric illness and are just plain “crazy”.
Fact: In some situations where a person ends their life, a diagnosed mental illness is NOT the dominant factor (SANE, 2018.). Many people who are intent on dying are in emotional turmoil and are experiencing intense distress or crisis such as financial crisis. This may or may not involve mental illness.
Myth 2: Talking to people about suicide who are upset will just put the idea in their heads. This is one of the most common myths about suicide.
Fact: Suicide is a very complex process and far too complex to blame as a result of a caring person asking questions about suicide. In fact, talking to people can very well lessen the chance of a suicide attempt (QPR Australia).
Myth 3:People who talk about suicide are not at any serious risk of killing themselves.
Fact: People who do die by suicide, throughout time, talk about suicide or give warnings and clues although it may not be recognised at the time (Beyond Blue, n.d).
Myth 4: People who are so depressed (or even in a catatonic state) just don’t have enough energy to kill themselves
Fact: People may kill themselves in the depths of depression. It is difficult to assess the subjectivity of a person’s feelings but some people with extremely low energy levels do/can end their lives (QPR Australia).
Myth 5: A “good life” such as having a good job and home will prevent suicide.
Fact: Suicide cuts across/affects all creeds, classes, ages and sexes (particular groups in society are more vulnerable though) (Health, 2018).
Myth 6: Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendred will trigger suicidal behaviour because these people come to recognise their “sinfulness”.
Fact: Suicide attempts are often strongly related to prejudice, hatred and even violence from mainstream society and not necessarily from the person’s self-concept of their sexuality. However the suicide rate of among these persons are higher than national averages due to factors such as homophobia (The Conversation, n.d).
Myth 7: Those who threaten suicide or cut their wrists “only” superficially and who have not ended their lives with any other attempts are at no risk of suicide.
Fact: Most people who have ended their lives have had a history of suicide attempts. Suicide contemplated or attempted is normally a cry for help, and if not responded to, tragedy may result (QPR Australia).
Myth 8: People who contemplate suicide (or who have a plan) keep their thoughts to themselves, and a suicide (or an attempt) occurs without warning.
Fact: At least 8 out of 10 people give warning signals of their suicidal intentions, however some signs may be difficult to detect (Ashby Allen Institute, n.d.).
Myth 9: People who talk about suicide only want attention (another one of the most common myths about suicide).
Fact: Again, it is usually a cry for help, but not necessarily with a motivation for attention, but more so crying out for somebody to listen. Asking for somebody to listen may help to give a feeling of validation, and this may help the person to feel heard and that somebody actually does care or wants to help; they may not necessarily be demanding attention from several or many people (QPR Australia).
Myth 10: People who are experiencing thoughts of ending their life are intent on dying.
Fact: Yes, some are, but many aren’t. Basically, if they were intent on dying, they generally would not communicate any intention. The overwhelming majority do not really want to die (QPR Australia). I can personally vouch for this from my own experience with an attempt. Rather than really, REALLY wanting to die, it is more often a situation where one wants the intense emotional pain to end. There appears to be no shades of grey; all seems black. I remember from my own experience when I really truly thought I could very well die, I then realized that I did not really want to.
Myth 11: People who have ended their life wanted it that way.
Fact: This is much like myth 10 in where a person may very well not be serious about killing themselves, but it happens. I remember I took 30-32 Panadeine Forte with 2.25 litres of beer, slept it off, told nobody and had absolutely no idea of the dangers. Sometimes a person can be found dead and they were not necessarily intent on ending their life, but in emotional turmoil and just wanting to do something to have a ‘break’ from the pain (something temporary).
Myth 12: Only particular types of people think about, attempt, or commit suicide.
Fact: Suicide effects anyone regardless of socio-economic class, race, religion, age or other (QPR Australia).
If you think somebody is having thoughts of ending their life, TALK TO THEM. Get help.
Please pass this message on to anybody who you think may need some more awareness of myths about suicide.
1800 55 1800
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Beyond Blue (n.d). Common warning signs. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/worried-about-suicide/what-are-the-warning-signs/common-warning-signs
Health, (2018). 15 myths and facts about suicide and depression. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20507781,00.html
SANE (2018). Suicidal behaviour [Fact sheet]. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/suicidal-behaviour
The Conversation (n.d.). Why do so many gay and bisexual men die from suicide? Retrieved June 22, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/why-do-so-many-gay-and-bisexual-men-die-from-suicide-78587
QPR Australia, (n.d).
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