Myths About Suicide

By Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC | July 7, 2023

With the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide, many myths have developed that often prevent people from seeking the treatment or help they need. Debunking these myths can help reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and make seeking help and addressing mental health challenges easier.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline by texting or dialing 988. You can also use chat services to talk with a trained crisis counselor from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text “HelpLine” to 62640 to contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Crisis Text Line. Help is available, and you are not alone.

In This Article

8 Myths About Suicide Debunked

Many misconceptions about suicide can further increase the stigma surrounding seeking help. Learning about the myths and facts can make it easier for someone to seek treatment and save their life. 

Some common myths about suicide include:

Myth 1: You Can’t Talk About Suicide

While suicide isn’t easy to talk about, asking someone if they’re suicidal or talking about suicide could help protect them. Asking someone if they’re struggling or experiencing suicidal ideation may make it easier for them to open up to you, and you can reassure them they’re not a burden and that you’re there to support them. 

Many people are afraid to talk about suicide, but opening up the floor for an honest conversation can help reduce the stigma and make a person more likely to seek help. Talking about suicide can also encourage someone to share their story with others.

Myth 2: Only People With Mental Health Conditions Can Be Suicidal

While suicidal ideation is a common symptom of many mental health conditions, these individuals aren’t the only ones who can be suicidal. Life stressors, such as trouble at work, tension in relationships, traumatic experiences, death of a loved one or financial hardship, can lead an individual to develop suicidal thoughts. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens and young adults, and not all of these individuals struggle with mental health conditions. 

Myth 3: Most Suicides Happen Without Warning

Most suicides are preceded by warning signs, whether verbal or behavioral. It’s essential to learn the warning signs of suicide to ensure you can identify them in a loved one:

  • Increased substance use
  • Dramatic or intense mood swings
  • Reckless of impulsive behaviors
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up any loose ends in their life

Some warning signs are only shown to loved ones, which may go unnoticed and make it seem like suicide happens without warning. If you notice any signs in your loved one, you should contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or seek help from a professional. 

Myth 4: Once a Person is Suicidal, They’ll Always Be Suicidal

Myth 4: Once a Person is Suicidal, They'll Always Be Suicidal

Active suicidal ideation tends to be specific to a situation and short-lived. Many people who consider, attempt or commit suicide don’t have a history of mental illness. Individuals struggling with their mental health can seek treatment to improve their well-being and reduce or eliminate suicidal ideation. 

Suicide is often an attempt to control painful thoughts or emotions. Once these thoughts lessen or disappear, the suicidal thoughts often go with them. While these thoughts can return, they’re not a permanent state of mind. A person who experiences or has experienced suicidal thoughts can live a long and fulfilling life. 

Myth 5: There’s Nothing You Can Do to Stop a Person Who Wants to End Their Life

Typically, suicidal ideation is temporary, even if a person has been experiencing struggles, anxiety or low moods for long periods. If those who are suicidal get the help they need at the right time, it can save their life. If someone you know or love struggles with suicidal thoughts, remember to be patient and stay with them when you can. Remind them that you’re there to support them. 

If you think someone you know has hurt themselves or it’s an emergency, you should call emergency services immediately. 

Myth 6: People Who Have Their Life Together Aren’t at Risk for Suicide

While a person can seem like they have their life together, it doesn’t mean they’re not at risk for suicide. Even if a person has friends, is doing well at work, is financially stable and seems happy, they can still be at risk. People often deal with their stress or challenges behind closed doors or bottle everything up inside. Someone who seems to have their life together can be going through a hard time, even if their friends or family don’t realize it. Encouraging open conversations and checking in on your loved ones can help reduce the risk of suicide. 

Myth 7: After a Failed Attempt, a Person Won’t Try Again

While some individuals who experience a failed suicide attempt don’t often die by suicide, that doesn’t mean the risk goes away or that they won’t try again. A failed suicide attempt is a significant risk factor for future suicide attempts. People who have attempted suicide in the past need treatment and a support network, or they may feel isolated and alone, which can trigger the same feeling that caused them to make an attempt in the first place. 

If you or a loved one has attempted suicide in the past, it’s essential to find or offer support and seek treatment to get to the underlying cause.

Myth 8: Young Teens or Adults Who Talk About Suicide Never Make an Attempt or Die From Suicide

One of the biggest myths about youth suicide is that young teens or adults who talk about suicide never make an actual attempt. However, young people are at as much risk for suicide as anyone else. Talking about suicide can be a call for help or a sign of progression to a possible suicide attempt. If a young person is talking about suicide, there are a few ways you can help:

  • Encourage them to talk about their feelings and help them find professional support.
  • Ask if the person is thinking about a suicide attempt or making a plan.
  • Encourage them to make a personal safety plan, such as checking in with loved ones or spending time with friends.

Contact Hillside® to Learn About Our Mental Health Treatment Center

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide or their mental and behavioral health, Hillside® can help. We are a treatment center focused on treating mental health challenges in children, teens and their families. We offer different levels of treatment to suit your needs, including residential, day, intensive in-home and virtual intensive treatment. We aim to help solve underlying mental health conditions and family dysfunction to help children and their families live fulfilling lives.

Our treatment programs foster creativity and flexibility, helping children and teens navigate the challenges in their lives. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family.

Contact Hillside® to Learn About Our Mental Health Treatment Center

Author

  • Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC

    Director of Clinical Education & Outreach - Gaan has been working with children, adolescents, and families for over 10 years in various settings. In her current role, she provides education and training for mental health professionals, parents, and the community. She lives in Atlanta with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, climbing, and cooking. She is a donut aficionado and a national park enthusiast!

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