Myths about suicide

There are many suicide myths that cloud our judgement and stop us from reaching out to someone who may be suicidal. Here we separate myths such as, “Asking someone if they are suicidal will put the idea in their head.” to “Once a person feels suicidal, they will always feel that way.” from fact.

We need to look out for people in our lives who aren’t coping. But there are still many suicide myths that may cloud our judgement and stop us from reaching out to someone. Here we separate myth from fact.

 

Suicide myth

Asking someone if they are suicidal will put the idea in their head.

 

Fact

There is no evidence that talking to someone about suicidal thoughts is harmful. You can ask the person directly if they are feeling suicidal or if they have been thinking about suicide. By discussing it openly and honestly, you are giving the person the opportunity to take the first steps towards getting the help they need. Our resources page has more information on talking to someone about suicide.

 

Suicide myth

It’s my fault they feel suicidal.

 

Fact

It is not your fault. Suicide is complex, and many things can contribute to a person’s risk. The feelings and thoughts of a suicidal person are based on factors largely outside your control. It could be their interpretation of a stressful situation or feeling that the future is hopeless and bleak.

 

Suicide myth

There are no warning signs that someone may be suicidal.

 

Fact

There are often warning signs. A person who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to those around them that indicate they are distressed. These might be physical (e.g. loss of energy) or behavioural changes (e.g. emotional outbursts). Visit our resources page for warning signs to learn more.

 

Suicide myth

If someone talks about suicide, they probably don’t intend to follow through with it.

 

Fact

If someone talks about suicide or self-harms they are probably reaching out for help. If someone talks to you about suicide, you can call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 for help. If it is an emergency, call 000.

 

Suicide myth

Once a person feels suicidal, they will always feel that way.

 

Fact

Suicidal thoughts are not permanent. An increased risk is usually short-term and attached to a specific situation. People can get help and go on to live long and healthy lives.

 

Suicide myth

Only people diagnosed with mental disorders are suicidal.

 

Fact

Not everyone who is suicidal has a mental disorder. Many people with mental disorders are not affected by suicidal behaviour.

 

Suicide myth

Suicide is an act of selfishness.

 

Fact

Many people who attempt suicide feel like they are a burden, and family and friends will be better off without them. The person may feel hopeless, and it is difficult for them to imagine that things will get better.

 

We need to dispel these suicide myths if we’re going to help people in our community. If you are concerned about someone: Ask, listen, support, encourage and check-in.

 

If you need support, call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

If it is an emergency, call 000.

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