I remember when I was in grade school and I heard about a classmate’s brother who died at the family home. He was found in the barn and he had taken his own life. Only, no one would actually say that. No one said suicide, talked about suicide, understood suicide. Nothing. Everyone hush-hushed about the topic and most of the adults would get very uncomfortable or irritated if us kids started asking questions. It probably didn’t help that we were in a Catholic school because I recall one of the teachers saying that the deceased wouldn’t go to heaven because he had committed a terrible sin by killing himself. I think that kind of ended the conversation right there. Regardless of whether a personal belief system views this as a ‘sin’, the comments were not at all conducive to trying to understand what had happened, why it might have happened or provide any sort of support for those grieving. This young fellow was not quite a teenager yet (early teens maybe) when he took his life. This lack of understanding was very normal for that time and era but looking back it was incredibly alarming.
Fast forward a bunch of years and there are some things we do better at but some we don’t. We know more now. We know that talking about suicide doesn’t magically make it happen. We have suicide prevention training programs all over the place (in the schools, in work places, in communities) and yet, it still continues to be the solution for countless people who are in pain.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Here are a list of myths and facts about suicide. Please feel free to share with others and always reach out to help!
Myth – Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone really wants to die, they will.
Fact – Not necessarily. Most people who are contemplating suicide don’t necessarily want to die, they want to end the pain. There is a difference between the two. Sometimes life in its present form feels too unbearable and hopeless. Suicide isn’t so much about running to something, more about trying to escape something.
Myth – Someone who attempts suicide in the past, won’t try again.
Fact – 4 out of 5 people who have died by way of suicide had at least one other previous attempt.
Myth – Talking about suicide or asking someone if they are thinking of suicide will put the idea in their head and make them more likely to do it.
Fact – Talking to someone about suicide provides them with the opportunity to talk about the pain they are experiencing or the difficulties they feel overwhelmed by. In fact, asking people directly and talking about it is a recommended approach for suicide prevention.
Myth – Someone who makes suicide threats is just looking for attention
Fact – Well, a cry for help is still a cry for help. Maybe the threat is an invitation for others to help them. Many people give some indication that they are having suicidal thoughts prior to killing themselves and that includes threats of suicide. It’s something that should always be taken seriously.
Myth – Preventing access to weapons, putting barricades on bridges and other preventative methods that limit access to the means to commit suicide does not help or make a difference.
Fact – Limiting access to lethal methods of suicide is actually one of the more successful strategies for preventing suicide. While thoughts of suicide may linger in a person’s mind for some time, the act to commit suicide itself can be impulsive and be triggered by some form of crisis (including psychological crisis). Limiting a person’s access to the means to commit suicide can help by giving everyone time to try to find another solution.
Myth – Males, teenagers and college students are the highest risk for committing suicide.
Fact – Males die by suicide at a rate of 4 times more often than females but females attempt suicide more often. Suicide risk appears to increase with age and currently, the age group with the highest suicide rate (at least by US stats) is middle-aged men between 45 – 64.
Myth – People who take their own lives are cowards, selfish and / or weak.
Fact – More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one or more treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and / or alcohol or substance abuse.
Myth – Talk therapy and medications don’t work when it comes to preventing suicide.
Fact – Treatment can and does work. In fact, one of the best ways to prevent suicide is to get treatment for whatever your struggles may be.
Suicide is an issue for all countries and impacts everyone regardless of socio-economic status, race or orientation. If you or someone you know about is thinking about suicide, please get help.
For more information, please click here http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm