Common Myths and Misconceptions
“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”
False: Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given clear warning signs through their words or behaviors. Do not ignore any suicide threats, regardless of how casually or jokingly said. These statements may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
“If a person is determined to commit suicide, nothing can prevent it.”
False: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want to die: they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end their life, however overpowering, does not last forever.
“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”
False: Talking about suicide or asking if someone is thinking about suicide does not give him the idea. The opposite is true. If a person is depressed or unhappy, discussing their feelings openly and allowing free expression is one of the most helpful things you can do. Even if they have suicidal thoughts, giving them permission to express those thoughts can relieve some of the anxiety and provide an avenue to recognize other ways to escape their pain and sadness.
“People who attempt suicide are just trying to get attention and are not really serious.”
False: To a certain degree, they are trying to get attention and help to ease the pain they are experiencing. A suicide attempt, even half-hearted, is an attempt to seek help. If the person perceives their action to be a suicide attempt, then that is what it is. Any attempt, regardless of severity, must be taken seriously, and help must be sought for the individual.