This article is meant to highlight some of the common myths about suicide as well provide facts that you can rely on. The following information is obtained from Mental Health First Aid.
Myth: Once a person is seriously considering suicide, there is nothing you can do.
Fact: Often, when someone is in a suicide crisis, it is time-limited and based upon their unclear thinking. That person is often looking for an escape or a solution they can’t seem to find. Therefore, there is often plenty that can be done. Someone of support can remind a suicidal teen that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Myth: If you ask a teen about his or her suicidal intentions, you will encourage that adolescent to follow through with his or her plans.
Fact: Actually, this isn’t true. Asking someone about their plans gives them an opportunity to discuss this matter and often relieves the anxiety they often feel. Also, your openness shows your support and trustworthiness. And this can help someone who is feeling suicidal feel less lonely or isolated.
Myth: A teen who attempts suicide will always be “suicidal”.
Fact: This is also not true. Someone who is suicidal is having thoughts of suicide, which is a common symptom of severe depression. Once depression is treated with medication and therapy, it’s common to see those suicidal thoughts slowly dissipate. With the proper support and treatment, most people won’t ever feel suicidal again in life.
Myth: Suicidal people rarely seek medical care.
Fact: Research shows that most people visit a physician within 3 months of attempting suicide.
Myth: Teens who talk about suicide don’t actually attempt suicide.
Fact: This is also not true. Case after case of suicides indicate that most people will leave clear warning signs and clues regarding their suicidal intentions. Sadly, they are recognized after adolescents take their lives. However, if those clues and warning signs are noticed prior to a suicide attempt, they can prevent suicidal behavior.
Myth: Suicide happens without warning.
Fact: Eight out of ten people who kill themselves give clear warning signs of their intentions. Those teens who cry out for help by making these warning signs or leaving any clues to their suicide intention must be taken seriously.
Myth: Teens who think about suicide and who are suicidal are only thinking about dying.
Fact: People who are suicidal are most commonly undecided and have much anxiety about wanting to die and not wanting to die. Furthermore, they will carry this anxiety right up to the last minute. Some teens might “gamble” with death, leaving it up to others to save them. There are only a few who will let others find them without letting anyone know about their feelings of wanting to die. What makes it difficult is that those give signs of their intent to commit suicide, which are the majority, will do so in code. As mentioned earlier, if these are recognized, these signs can be used to save a teen’s life.
Myth: When a teen improves in his or her mental health after a suicide crisis, it means that he or she will never experience suicidal thoughts.
Fact: It’s interesting to note that most suicides actually happen about three months after a period of improvement, when people have the energy to turn their suicidal thoughts into action. Often depression will create a significant lack of energy for most people along with suicidal thoughts. However, once that depression begins to lift and the energy returns, those suicidal thoughts might then be acted upon, if not addressed.
Myth: Suicide occurs most frequently among certain classes of people.
Fact: Suicide affects all classes of people, regardless of gender, age, socioeconomic status, or financial situation. The prime example is Robin William’s suicide in 2014. All human beings can be affected by suicide.
Myth: All teens who are suicidal are loners.
Fact: Those who have suicidal thoughts will tend to isolate themselves. Isolation is a common symptom of depression. Yet, this does not mean that all people who spend time alone are suicidal.
Myth: If a person really wants to kill themselves, no one has the right to stop them.
Fact: Just because suicide implies voluntary action does not mean that the person actually wants to die. Commonly, a suicidal person simply wants to escape from pain and sees death as the only option.