Myths vs. Truths about Suicide
This resource addresses some myths and some truths about suicide.
- 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 &