Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four of the most common misconceptions about suicide and a discussion of why each is a misconception

  •  People who talk about suicide won’t really do it. - Almost everyone who commits or attempts to commit suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” “I’d be better off dead.” – no matter how casually or jokingly stated may indicate serious suicidal feelings. According to research, as many as 75% of the people who commit suicide do or say something to indicate their state of mind and intentions before they act.
  • Anyone who tries to kill himself/herself must be crazy. – Most people who are suicidal are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset or distraught because of a crisis, grief-stricken, depressed or simply feeling disparity. Extreme distress and emotional pain are always signs of mental illness but not necessarily signs of a psychosis. A suicide attempt should not be brushed off as attention seeking or a onetime thing.
  • People who commit suicide always leave notes. – While some people may leave suicide notes, a majority of people who commit or attempt to commit suicide never leave a final message to those left behind. Research has found that most people who suffer from some form of mental illness do not leave a note. Most of the belief that suicidal people will leave notes has been exaggerated by pop culture, literature, and Hollywood.
  • If a person is determined to kill himself/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her. – This is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about suicide. Just as those without suicidal thoughts have changes in moods and thoughts, so do those that are contemplating death. Even the most severely distressed individual will have mixed feelings about taking their life. Many of them will even waiver until the very last moment between wanting to live or die. They will even attempt to reach out to someone one last time to help prevent them from going through with the attempt.

* Note: these discussions were pulled from notes taken in my Intro to Psychology and Crisis Response at NWACC College just a few years ago. And from the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
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