Suicidal Thoughts (cont.)
Myth: Discussing suicide might encourage it.
Fact: Many people worry about this, but there is no evidence to support this fear. It is important to speak openly about suicide, both to get help if you have suicidal thoughts, and to ask about suicidal thoughts in those close to you. Without open discussions about suicide, those suffering may continue to feel isolated, and are less likely to get the help they need.
Myth: The only people who are suicidal are those who have mental disorders.
Fact: Suicidal thoughts and actions indicate extreme distress and often hopelessness and unhappiness. While this may be part of a mental disorder, it isn't always. Many people with mental illness never have suicidal behavior, and not all people who commit suicide have a mental illness.
Myth: Suicidal thoughts never go away.
Fact: Increased thoughts or risk for suicide can come and go as situations and symptoms vary. Suicidal thoughts may return, but are not permanent, and suicide is not inevitable.
Myth: A suicidal person is determined to end his or her life.
Fact: People who have survived suicide attempts often state that they didn't want to die but rather didn't want to keep living with the suffering they were feeling. They are often ambivalent about living or dying. After an attempt, some people clearly indicate that they want to live on, and most people who survive an attempt do not end up ending their lives later. Access to help at the right time can prevent suicide.
Myth: There is no warning for most suicides.
Fact: When looking back, most people who committed suicide showed some signs in the things that they said or did in the weeks before. Some suicides may be impulsive and not planned out, but the signs of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse were present. It is important to understand what the warning signs are and look out for them.
Myth: Individuals who discuss suicide won't really do it.
Fact: People who talk about suicide may be reaching out for help or support. Most people aren't comfortable talking about suicide, so they might bring it up in a joking or offhand way. However, any mention of suicide should be taken seriously and viewed as an opportunity to help. Most people contemplating suicide are experiencing depression, anxiety, and hopelessness but may not have any support or treatment.
Myth: Suicide attempts are just a "cry for help" or a way to get attention.
Fact: Suicide attempts, even "minor" ones that don't require serious medical attention, are a sign of extreme distress. Suicide attempts should be taken seriously and are a reason to assess and treat any ongoing mental-health issues.
For More Information on Suicide
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress
Military veterans suicide hotline (press 1)
Suicide hotline in Spanish (press 2)
Teens can get text support from the crisis text line by texting "listen" to 741-741
LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR
For local suicide hotlines, check this directory: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
Information and resources:
American Association of Suicidality
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Support Groups
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF, formerly NARSAD)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
Healthy Minds (http://www.healthyminds.org)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (http://www.nami.org)
National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
World Health Organization (WHO)
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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2014
Michael J. Peterson, MD, PhD
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