Society doesn’t talk about suicide very often if ever. It makes sense. Suicide can be scary, sad, uncomfortable, confusing, mysterious. When we don’t talk about something, we have questions that can get filled in with people who don’t have all the facts.
We're here to help clear some of the myths surrounding suicide. Knowing the facts is suicide prevention.
Asking About Suicide
FACT: If you’re concerned enough to ask, then it’s important to check in. No one asking them about it will give them the idea or push them to act on it.
FACT: The reason why we ask people if they’re thinking about suicide is to open the door to the conversation and help them get support. People are often relieved that someone asked, and it gives them a chance to talk about their struggles and possibly get help. If they do get mad, it might not feel good, but that’s okay. Many times, more vulnerable uncomfortable feelings can lie beneath anger.
People Who Attempt and/or Die by Suicide
FACT: People who attempt or die by suicide are intense pain and want to end their suffering. Suicide can result from not seeing any way out of mental illness, difficult life circumstances, or feelings of hopeless, helpless, or shame. In some cases, people who die by suicide see themselves as a burden and believe that things would better for others if they were gone.
FACT: All people who say they are thinking of killing themselves should be taken seriously. Even if it is in an attempt to gain attention, that attention may very well save their life.
FACT: Talking about suicide or not talking about it is not the best indicator of suicide risk. If you have concerns about yourself or a friend based on anything that they’ve said, behaviors and changes they’ve shown, or if it’s just a gut feeling, it’s always a good idea to check in.
FACT: Suicide is complex and so are the reasons people die by suicide. It's not about just one thing or event but rather the combination of the person’s experiences, beliefs about the world and themselves, coping skills, social support, emotional wellness, physical wellness, and more.
FACT: Having depression doesn’t equal being suicidal. Depression could increase someone’s risk for suicide, but so can other mental illnesses, negative or challenging experiences, or other combinations of personal factors. On the other hand, not everyone who has depression thinks about, attempts, or dies by suicide.
FACT: Fleeting thoughts about death, the meaning of life, or wanting to end some kind of pain are more common than you might think. This doesn’t automatically mean someone is going to die by suicide. Suicidal thoughts exist on a continuum from passive or hypothetical thoughts to deliberate planning and intention to act on that plan.
Even though thoughts about suicide don’t always mean someone will act on them, they’re often an indicator of how that person’s doing. It’s always a good idea to check in with yourself or anyone who's expressing the thoughts with curiosity about what could be going on underneath them.
FACT: Having past suicide attempts is one of many risk factors for future suicide attempts. Suicide can be hard to predict. There are many protective factors that can reduce the risk of suicide like someone getting support when they need it. Those who get support following a suicide attempt can decrease their risk of another suicide attempt.
FACT: Everyone has the potential for suicide, and suicide impacts everybody. There isn’t one type of person. People struggling with suicidal thoughts can be the most popular person in school, a roommate, a neighbor or family friend, valedictorian, family members, celebrities, politicians, or anyone who has suicide risk factors.
FACT: Sometimes there are warning signs, and sometimes there aren’t. If you’re concerned about someone in your life, it’s okay to ask about suicide.
FACT: Many times, suicides can be thought out and planned for, but not always. Sometimes a suicide attempt happens on an impulse, especially with younger people or when substance use/abuse is involved.
FACT: Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention. From knowledge about myths and facts and talking openly with friends about mental health to asking about suicide and being aware of the resources available, you can help to prevent suicide.
FACT: Keeping someone safe is not a one-person job. When someone tells you they’re thinking about suicide, referring them for help or taking them to get help are among the best things you can do for them.
FACT: Suicides can be prevented. People can be helped and no longer struggle with suicidal thoughts with the right help. Almost any positive action may save a life. Asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide, referring them for support, or listening openly could all play a part in someone’s recovery.
FACT: Suicide prevention efforts can help and have helped a lot of people, but there is no way to prevent every suicide.