University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Myths vs. Truths about Suicide

Preview Points

  • 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.).

Concluding Points

  • 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 & Psychological Services.

Download attached file, 124.3 KB


Gunit has no avatar

Gunit says:

What are some ideas on how to help a friend who might me suicidal? Is counseling the only helpful thing if someone feels suicidal?

Posted on Jun 09, 2009

Add a comment

You must sign in to leave comments. If you don't have an account, register now!