Suicide. It’s a scary word, isn’t it? It’s also misunderstood. No one wants to talk about it, but we can’t understand something that we don’t discuss. I was exposed to suicide when I was 13-years-old. My best friend tried to kill herself. Thankfully, she’s alive and well today.
But I didn’t know why or understand what happened or even that there were warning signs that I missed. I was her best friend, and I didn’t realize that my other half wanted to die. It took me a long time to understand that it wasn’t my fault.
Since then, there have been several other people close to me who have attempted suicide. They are all still alive today, which I could not be more grateful for. Recently, I learned an old friend of mine killed himself months ago. I didn’t know because no one wanted to talk about it, but it is so important to talk about. That’s why I want to debunk some myths today.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or chat with someone on their website. You are not alone, and you can get help.
Myth: Suicidal People Are Looking For Attention
Absolutely not. If someone is talking about suicide, there is a reason. They're not looking for attention. They're looking for help.
Myth: Suicide Isn't Preventable
Suicide is preventable. Many people who contemplate suicide are looking help and need someone to talk to. People who are considering suicide want whatever pain they're feeling to end and see death as the only way out.
Myth: Jokes About Suicide Shouldn't Be Taken Seriously
This is why I have such a problem when people say "I'm going to kill myself" over not having anything to wear or something trivial. Suicide isn't a joke, and it should always be taken seriously. You don't know what someone is dealing with on the inside. Someone throwing out a casual "I wish I were dead" might not be so casual. It's important to pay attention to any possible threat of suicide because that person might be trying to let you know what's going on.
Myth: People Who Commit Suicide Are Selfish
I'm guilty of feeling this way, and I feel badly about it. I didn't understand until I was struggling with depression and anxiety myself. You literally can't focus on anything except how to not feel the way you're feeling.
Myth: Suicide Is Only For Depressed People
While depression is the strongest risk factor, suicide also occurs in people with other illnesses. About 90% of suicides occur in people with mental health or substance abuse problems.
Myth: People Who Commit Suicide Are Crazy
No. This is one of the big stigmas that plagues the mental health community. "Crazy" is a dismissive term that makes anyone suffering from mental illnesses feel like they're less than.
Myth: It's Not Treatable And If Someone Attempts Suicide, They Won't Attempt It Again
If someone attempts suicide once but doesn't die, they will likely try again. That's why it's so important that they get the treatment and help they need and have a good support system in place. However, that doesn't mean someone who has attempted suicide will never get better. They might still have suicidal thoughts, but many people who have attempted suicide go on to have happy, healthy lives with ongoing treatment and support.
Myth: There Aren't Warning Signs
There are almost always warning signs, although they may be subtle. People who are contemplating suicide often avoid making plans too far in advance, give possessions away, behaving recklessly, discussing hopelessness or feeling trapped, preoccupation with death or extreme mood swings. These are just a few.
Myth: Suicide Isn't That Common
It's actually way more common than you think. Suicide is the third leading cause of death from people 15-24 and is the 11th leading cause of death for Americans according to data from 2011.
Myth: Talking About Suicide Will Make Someone Want To Commit Suicide
Oftentimes, people are afraid to ask people suffering from depression or other issues if they've thought about suicide. They're afraid to put the idea in that person's head. But more often than not, they've already thought about it and are looking for someone else to bring it up so they can talk about it.
Did you believe any of these myths about suicide? What other myths do you know of? Tell us in the comments!