Suicide Prevention: Myth or Fact?

  1. People who talk about suicide don't do it -- suicide happens without warning.
    Myth: Although suicide can be an impulsive act, it is often thought out and communicated to others, but people ignore the clues.
  2. Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
    Myth: Raising the question of suicide without shock or disapproval shows that you are taking the person seriously and responding to their pain.
  3. There are more suicides than homicides.
    Fact: Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death among adults in the United States. There are twice as many suicides as homicides.
  4. Suicide rates are higher for people of low income.
    Myth: Suicide shows little prejudice to economic status. It is representative proportionally among all levels of society.
  5. More men commit suicide than women.
    Fact: Although women attempt suicide twice as often as men, men commit suicide twice as often as women.
  6. Most suicidal people are undecided about living or dying, and they gamble with death, leaving it to others to save them.
    Fact: Suicidal people are often undecided about living or dying right up to the last minute; many gamble that others will save them.
  7. Once a person is suicidal, he or she is suicidal forever.
    Myth: 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.
  8. If a person really wants to kill him or herself, no one has the right to stop him or her.
    Myth: No suicide has only one victim; family members, friends, and loved ones all suffer from the loss of a life. You would try to save someone if you saw them drowning. Why is suicide any different?
  9. Most suicides are caused by a single dramatic and traumatic event.
    Myth: Precipitating factors may trigger a suicidal decision; but, more typically, the person has suffered long periods of unhappiness and depression, lack of self respect, has lost the ability to cope with their life, and has no hope for the future.
  10. There is no genetic predisposition to suicide.
    Fact: There is no genetic predisposition to suicide - it does not "run in the family."
  11. Improvement following a serious personal crisis or serious depression means that the risk of suicide is over.
    Myth: 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.
  12. It's unhelpful to talk about suicide to a person who is depressed.
    Myth: Suicidal individuals often exhibit physical symptoms as part of their depression and might seek medical treatment for their physical ailments. Often, suicidal individuals seek counseling, but are frustrated when they do not see immediate results.
  13. People who commit suicide have not sought medical help prior to their attempt.
    Myth: Depressed persons need emotional support and empathy; encouraging them to talk about their suicidal feelings can be therapeutic as a first step.