Quite a few misunderstandings about suicide are pervasive.
This handout strives to dispel some of the myths about suicide.
The dispelling of these myths will hopefully encourage more people to seek help if they are feeling suicidal.
It is hoped that those who know a person who is suicidal would intervene in a supportive and effective way.
MYTH: People who talk about suicide don’t commit suicide.
TRUTH: Of any 10 people who kill themselves, eight have given definite warnings of their suicidal intentions.
MYTH: Suicide happens without warning.
TRUTH: Most people who attempt or complete suicide have given clues or indications that they were considering suicide.
MYTH: Most suicidal people are intent upon dying, and there is nothing one can do to stop them.
TRUTH: Most suicidal people are ambivalent about living or dying. Almost no one commits suicide without letting others know how she / he feels (suggesting hope for intervention).
MYTH: Once a person is suicidal, she / he is suicidal forever.
TRUTH: In the vast majority of cases, a person is suicidal during a brief crisis period and is never or rarely suicidal again.
MYTH: Improvement following a suicidal crisis or attempt means that the risk of suicide has passed.
TRUTH: Most suicides occur within about 3 months following the beginning of “improvement,” when the individual has more energy to put toward taking action.
MYTH: Suicide is a “rich man’s disease”—or, conversely, it occurs almost exclusively among the poor.
TRUTH: Suicide is a “democratic” concern. It touches every segment of society regardless of access to financial resources.
MYTH: All suicidal individuals are mentally ill, and suicide is always the act of a psychotic person.
TRUTH: Studies of hundreds of genuine suicide notes indicate that although the suicidal person is extremely unhappy and usually feels a lack of control, she / he is not necessarily mentally ill.
MYTH: There is nothing I can do to prevent someone from killing her / himself.
TRUTH: Intervening, expressing care, and helping a suicidal individual access professional help can save her / his life. While it is true that some percentage of suicidal individuals will likely succeed in ending their lives, a significant portion can and will be saved by the efforts of those around them. You can make a difference (Taylor, n.d., n.p.).
People who are feeling suicidal may show some indicators of their intent.
Interventions with those who are depressed may be helpful in preventing a suicide.
Taylor, E. (n.d.) “Myths (and Truths) about Suicide.” Oregon State University Counseling &