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8 common myths about suicide

Understanding these myths around suicide can help us to support people who feel suicidal


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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There are many misconceptions about people who have suicidal thoughts or who die by suicide. As a result, there are people who could be feeling suicidal who might not reach out for help, because they might feel misunderstood.

In order to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, it's important we understand the issue, and know what is a myth, and what is the truth.

8 myths about suicide

1. Suicide happens without warning

People thinking of suicide may talk or act in ways that indicate they are thinking of taking their own life. Find out more about some of the warning signs.

2. People who talk about suicide don’t actually go through with it

Most people who kill themselves have given definite warning signs of their intention. Some of these signs are direct, others are more subtle.

3. People with suicidal thoughts are absolutely intent on dying

Most people who think of suicide have mixed feelings about living and dying. Many don’t really want to die but they don’t want to live the way they are living and may not be able to see an alternative other than suicide.

4. Once a person thinks of suicide they will have those thoughts forever

Suicidal thoughts may return, but they are not permanent. In some people, they may never return if they get the support they need.

5. An improvement after a crisis means the suicide risk is over

Some suicides happen when things seem to be getting better because the person now has the energy and will to turn despairing thoughts into self-destructive action.

Sometimes, people may appear in better spirits following a crisis because they have formed a plan in their mind to end their life.

6. Suicide happens mainly among the poor

Suicide happens in all groups in society, and can affect anyone.

7. You are either the suicidal type or you’re not

Anyone can turn to suicide as a way of coping with obvious or perceived stress.

8. Talking about suicide is a bad idea as it may give someone the idea to try it

Suicide can be a taboo topic in society. Often, people feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone so they don’t discuss it. By asking about suicide you give them permission to tell you how they feel. Once someone starts talking they’ve got a better chance of discovering other options to suicide. Find out more about how to talk to someone who might be suicidal

Some content thanks to the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Visit yourmentalhealth.ie for information on mental health in Ireland, and how to support yourself and the people you love.

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Published September 8th, 2016
Last updated September 3rd, 2018
Tags mental health suicide world suicide prevention day
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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