Suicide affected many people recently. Within the past year, about 41,000 individuals died by suicide, 1.3 million adults have attempted suicide, 2.7 million adults have had a plan to attempt suicide and 9.3 million adults have had suicidal thoughts.
More people lose their lives to suicide than to road accidents, industrial accidents, and homicides combined. Around 2800 Australians take their own life each year; an average of almost 8 suicides a day.
According to WHO data, the age-standardized suicide rate in India is 16.4 per 100,000 for women (6th highest in the world) and 25.8 for men (ranking 22nd). Domestic violence is a major risk factor for suicide in a case study performed in Bangalore.
Married women account for the highest proportion of suicide deaths in India. Seven times that number attempt to take their lives and as for those who feel desperate and unable to cope, the number is mind-boggling. More suicides occur between 18 and 45 – in other words in the most productive age group of our society.
Unfortunately, our society often paints suicide the way they would a prison sentence. However, suicidal ideation is not a brand or a label, it is a sign that an individual is suffering deeply and must seek treatment.
Debunking the most common myths associated with suicide can help society realize the importance of helping others seek treatment and show individuals the importance of addressing their mental health challenges.
Experts point out that suicide is preventable, and knowing the facts about it can help you intervene and make a difference in someone’s life.
While suicide awareness and prevention has come a long way over the past decade, many myths still exist.
As well as being incorrect, these myths can stop us recognizing when someone is at risk and in need of support.
1. Myth: People who want to die always find a way
FACT: There’s a misconception that a suicidal person will find a way to make his or her own life, no matter what.
This fuels the dangerous notion that it’s useless to reach out to someone contemplating suicide, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
When people are suicidal, many times they’re highly ambivalent. They’re unsure about suicide. They’re torn between a desire to live and a desire to die.
2. Myth: People take their own life “out of the blue.”
FACT: Through their words or actions, most people who take their own lives really have communicated their intent beforehand to other people
There are almost always warning signs, including telling others they want their lives to end, giving away possessions, behaving more aggressively or recklessly, experiencing dramatic mood swings, abusing substances and withdrawing socially.
3. Myth: Someone who has their act together isn’t at risk of suicide.
FACT: We look at the outside veneer and say, ‘They’re doing great. Life is wonderful. How could they even contemplate suicide? you really don’t know what’s going on inside of someone,
While the deaths of Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are high-profile examples of prominent people dying by suicide, seemingly happy people in your own life might be at risk, too.
4. Myth: Most suicides happen around the winter holiday season.
FACT: The holidays may be a time of togetherness, but they can also heighten depression among people who already feel lonely or stressed by the demands of the season.
Still, contrary to popular belief, suicides don’t peak during the winter holidays. Rather, they’re at their highest in the springtime. While there’s no scientific consensus as to why this happens, the seasonal spike in suicides means it’s best to let go of any assumptions that sunny days and blooming flowers will lift the mood of someone who is struggling. Instead, make a point to check in with them and offer a sympathetic ear.
5. Myth: When someone recovers after hitting rock bottom, their risk of suicide declines.
FACT: It’s one of the cruelest ironies of suicide: Someone hits rock bottom. But then, perhaps with the help of treatment, their mood lifts enough that loved ones think they’re out of the woods. Unfortunately, that’s oftentimes not true.
It takes a lot of energy to attempt suicide, and when a depressed person is in the early stages of recovery, he or she might gain just enough of it to end their life
Many times, people are at the highest risk of attempting suicide when they first get out of the hospital So it’s important to make sure that they have ongoing treatment and support after they get out of the hospital.
6. Myth: Giving someone a hotline number to call is enough.
FACT: Suicide hotlines can be effective. But that it’s not enough to simply suggest a suicidal person pick up the phone. Your struggling loved one might only pay lip service to your suggestion.
It’s important to help facilitate getting them to take the next step, rather than just giving them a phone number because you don’t know whether they’re going to follow through.
The best thing to do is ask how you can help, perhaps offer to reach out to a mental health provider they’ve seen in the past, or drive them to the emergency room yourself. (source)
7. Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
FACT: Many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt or die by suicide have a mental illness.
Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.
8. Myth: Once an individual is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.
FACT: Active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation-specific. Studies have shown that approximately 54% of individuals who have died by suicide did not have a diagnosable mental health disorder. And for those with mental illness, the proper treatment can help to reduce symptoms.
The act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing.
Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life.
9. Myth: People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
FACT: Typically, people do not die by suicide because they do not want to live.
People die by suicide because they want to end their suffering. These individuals are suffering so deeply that they feel helpless and hopeless.
Individuals who experience suicidal ideations do not do so by choice. They are not simply, “thinking of themselves,” but rather they are going through a very serious mental health symptom due to either mental illness or a difficult life situation.
10. Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
FACT: There is a widespread stigma associated with suicide and as a result, many people are afraid to speak about it.
Talking about suicide not only reduces the stigma but also allows individuals to seek help, rethink their opinions and share their story with others. We all need to talk more about suicide. (source)
11. Myth: There are more suicides than homicides.
FACT: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all adults. There are twice as many suicides as homicides
Many people feel that suicide is something that can’t possibly affect them or the people that they love, and that danger is something distant and external.
But people are far more likely to die by their own hand than another’s. Spreading the word that suicide is common and not restricted by demographics can help people become motivated to educate themselves about how to protect their loved ones from suicide.
12. Myth: More men attempt suicide than women
FACT: Although women attempt suicide more often than men, men are two to three times more likely to die by suicide.
This is generally true across the world, although in China rates are equal. Men attempt suicide by lethal means such as firearms more frequently, and this is thought to be because men are more likely to own guns and have access.
13. Myth: If a person really wants to kill their self, no one can stop them.
FACT: Suicidality represents a state of crisis. Sometimes deescalating the imminent crisis will allow people to see things differently in a calmer state
It’s very common for attempt survivors to deeply regret making an attempt, or feeling changed by the attempt and being convinced that they want to live.
Suicidal thoughts come and go, so it’s important to help support people who are in crisis so they survive to moments of stability. Have faith that recovery is possible.
14. Myth: Most suicides are caused by a single dramatic and traumatic event.
FACT: Precipitating factors may trigger a suicidal decision; but more typically the deeply troubled person has suffered long periods of unhappiness, depression, lack of self-respect, has lost the ability to cope with their life and has no hope for the future.
There may be some seemingly minor acute trigger that acts as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
If someone has a significant loss, they may get tremendous support immediately following the loss which may slowly taper off.
It’s helpful to keep providing consistent support and checking in long after the loss, when they may be dealing with more long-term effects.
15. Myth: Improvement following a serious personal crisis or serious depression means that the risk of suicide is over.
FACT: The risk of suicide may be the greatest as the depression lifts. The suicidal person may have new energy to carry out their suicide plan.
If someone seems to be coming out of a depressive state but is making verbal cues regarding not wanting to be around anymore, it’s worth assessing for risk of suicide.
16. Myth: People who complete suicide have not sought medical help prior to their attempt.
FACT: Suicidal individuals often exhibit physical symptoms as part of their depression and might seek medical treatment for their physical ailments.
Very often suicidal individuals seek counseling but may be frustrated when they do not see immediate results.
If someone is thinking of suicide, don’t consider therapy the be-all-end-all to address these feelings. Community and non-professional support are also important!
Even if it feels safer to allow professionals to handle it, getting a chance to talk to someone who comes from a non-clinical lens may feel freeing. Checking in about suicidal thoughts as a friend can help the person-at-risk get a different perspective.
17. Myth: People who attempt suicide want to die
FACT: People who attempt suicide are often quite ambivalent about it. They may not really want to die – they may even be afraid of death – but see suicide as the only way to bring an end to their pain.
Providing emotional support, helping them consider positive coping methods, can be helpful to someone who is feeling unsafe.
18. Myth: Suicidal behavior is manipulative or ‘attention-seeking’
FACT: Sometimes people may threaten or attempt suicide as a desperate plea to let others know they are not coping and need help.
They may not know how to tell others how they are feeling, they may think that no one cares, or that nobody can help them.
However these actions may come across, they should never be treated as trivial or manipulative. All suicidal talk and behavior is serious and requires a compassionate and immediate response.
19. Myth: Most suicides happen unexpectedly
FACT: There are often warning signs prior to suicide. Some may be obvious, talking about suicide or death.
Others less so, such as withdrawing from friends or family, or misusing alcohol and drugs.
People who are thinking about dying usually try to seek help. In fact, many people who attempt suicide visit a doctor in the months and weeks prior.
20. Myth: Suicide is a selfish act
FACT: Many people who attempt suicide feel they are a burden to others, and that their friends and family would be better off without them.
While some people recognize that their death will cause their loved one’s pain, they may also believe they are causing more pain by being alive and rationalize suicide as a way to protect those they care about
How To Prevent Suicidal Thoughts
Four pronged attacks for suicide prevention
A four-pronged attack to combat suicide suggested in a 2003 monograph was
(1) Reducing social isolation,
(2) Preventing social disintegration,
(3) Treating mental disorders, and
(4) Regulating the sale of pesticides & ropes.
(5) promoting psychological motivational session and meditation and yoga.
Often, when we hear about suicide, it’s in relation to someone who actually took his or her own life. That’s what gets publicity But what we don’t hear about is how many people were able to talk to someone, were directed to get help, did get the care and didn’t go on to take their life.
There are tremendous opportunities to intervene and prevent vulnerable people from doing the unthinkable. While such interventions may ultimately involve the work of mental health professionals, they often begin with family and friends. If your loved one is considering suicide, starting an honest conversation about it can be the first step toward getting them help – and saving a life.
As a society, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, to speak up about mental illness or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need.
Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities.
There are suicide hotlines, mental health support groups, online community resources and many mental health professionals who can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions.
Suicide hot lines around the world
You can contact us for emotional crisis situations, mental illness issues, and suicidal ideation. Families undergoing trauma after suicide of a loved one are also welcome to seek our help
We listen, We care. (source)
National Suicide Prevention Lifelinehttp://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Phone: 1 800 273 TALK (8255)
Lifeline Crisis Chat
Veterans/Military Crisis Line (for active U.S. service members, veterans, and family members)
Phone: 1 800 273 8255, Press 1
Phone: 13 11 14
Phone: 1800 55 1800
Phone: 1800 650 890
Rat auf Draht
Centrum Ter Preventie Van Zelfdoding
Brazil / Portugal
Kids Help Phone (for youth under 20)
Phone: 1 800 6686868
For people over 20, find a crisis centre that serves your area:
Phone: 116 111
Pražská linka důvěry
Phone: 222 580 697
Linka důvěry Ostrava
Phone: 596 618 908
Phone: 737 267 939
Linka duševní tísně Most
Phone: 476 701 444
Linka důvěry DKC
Phone: 241 484 149
Phone: 116111 (děti a mládež)
Phone: 70 201 201
Phone: 116 111 (Child Helpline is open daily from 11:00-23:00.)
Phone: 01019 5202
Phone: 01 42 96 26 26
Phone: 0800 111 0 111
Phone: 0800 111 0 222
Nummer gegen Kummer
Phone: 0800 111 0 550 (adults)
Phone: 0800 111 0 333 (children)
The Samaritans Hong Kong
Phone: 2896 0000
Magyar Lelki Elsősegély Telefonszolgálatok Szövetsége
Phone: 116 123
Phone: 371 67222922
Phone: 371 27722292
Jaunimo linija (Youth line)
Phone: 8 800 28888
Vilties linija (Hope line)
Phone: 116 123
Linija Doverija (Support for Russian-speaking clients)
Phone: 8 800 77277
SOS Détresse – Hëllef iwwer Telefon
Phone: 116 111
Phone: 0900-113 0 113
National Depression Initiative
Phone: 0800 111 757
Phone: 0800 376633
Phone: 815 33 300
Fundacja Dzieci Niczyje
Phone: 116 111
Phone: 0800 300 303
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)
Phone: 1800 221 4444
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)
Phone: 0800 567 567
중앙자살예방센터 (Korea Suicide Prevention Center)
Phone: +82 2-2203-0053
보건복지부 보건복지콜센터 (Ministry of Health & Welfare Call Center)
Phone: 129 (24시간 위기상담 / 24 hour hotline)
정신건강증진센터 정신건강위기상담전화 (Mental Health Center Crisis Counseling)
Phone: 1577-0199 (24시간 위기상담 / 24 hour hotline)
Teléfono de la Esperanza
Tel 143 – La Main Tendue – Die Dargebotene Hand – Telefono Amico
Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center
Phone: 0800 788 995
United Kingdom / Ireland
Phone: 116 123
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