Myth: Suicides happen without warning.
FACT: Although the suicide attempt is an impulsive act, it takes a lot of mental and physical preparation beforehand. Most people who are imminently suicidal are in crisis mode, and have difficulty spontaneously generating a specific plan, unless they’ve considered it in the past.
Myth: Asking someone if they’re suicidal will cause them to become suicidal.
FACT: Asking someone if they’re suicidal in a caring and nonjudgmental way will decrease stigma of suicidality, and make them more comfortable disclosing. It doesn’t increase likelihood of suicidal ideation, just likelihood that someone will disclose if they’re suicidal.
Myth: There are more suicides than homicides.
FACT: Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death among all adults in the United States. There are twice as many suicides as homicides.
Myth: Suicide rates are higher for people of low income.
FACT: Suicide shows little prejudice to economic status. It is representative proportionally among all levels of society.
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 successfully complete a suicide.
Myth: Once a person is suicidal, they will be suicidal forever.
FACT: People who want to kill themselves will not always feel suicidal or constantly be at a high risk for suicide. They feel that way until the crisis period passes.
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.
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.
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.
Myth: It’s unhelpful to talk about suicide to a person who is depressed.
FACT: Depressed persons need emotional support and empathy; encouraging them to talk about their suicidal feelings can be therapeutic as a first step.
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.