Stop the Silence: Suicide Prevention Myths Debunked

Suicide is preventable. Often, the biggest hurdle is silence. We're surrounded by myths and misconceptions that keep us from having open conversations about suicide.

Suicide Prevention Myths Debunked

The rising number of suicide deaths is a heartbreaking reality. We lose loved ones – parents, children, and friends – who are more than just statistics. They leave gaping holes in our lives.
But here’s the truth: suicide is preventable.

Often, the biggest hurdle is silence. We’re surrounded by myths and misconceptions that keep us from having open conversations about suicide. Let’s break down those barriers and learn how to recognize the signs of someone in crisis.

Mythbusters: Separating Fact from Fiction

Myth: Youth who talk about suicide rarely attempt it.
Fact: Most youth who attempt or complete suicide have given verbal clues.

Myth: Discussing suicide issues will make it happen.
Fact: Talking about suicide does not place ideas into young people’s heads that were not already there. There is evidence that once a suicide occurs other attempts may follow as a contagious reaction to hopelessness.

Myth: The tendency toward suicide is inherited.
Fact: There is no evidence of a genetic link. However, a previous suicide in the family may establish a destructive model for dealing with stress and depression.

Myth: Teenage suicides happen at night.
Fact: Most teenage suicides occur between 3 and 6 p.m., at home, presumably when the suicidal person can be seen and stopped.

Myth: Suicidal people leave notes.
Fact: Only a small percentage, about 15%, leave notes.

Myth: If a person wants to complete suicide nothing can stop them.
Fact: Suicidal people have mixed feelings about death. They send out messages and clues that ask others to save or help them. No one is suicidal all the time. Many suicides can be prevented.

Myth: Youths who want to complete suicide are mentally ill.
Fact: Mental illness can increase the risk of suicide but most young people who attempt or complete suicide would not be diagnosed as “mentally ill.” Youth suicide is often a sudden and urgent reaction to cumulative events and stresses.

Myth: Once a teenager has been suicidal, the false belief is that they are never out of danger.
Fact: Many who have been depressed recover and lead normal healthy lives. They learn constructive rather than destructive ways to cope and handle feelings and disappointments. You can make a difference. In many schools and communities, it is not a matter of whether you can or cannot, it is a matter of whether you will or will not.

This list was compiled by Sol Gordon in his book, When Living Hurts.

Taking Action: You Can Make a Difference

We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or someone in your community, being informed and reaching out can save a life.

It can be difficult and overwhelming to know if someone is seriously considering suicide. While a clinical assessment is always best, the S.L.A.P. Assessment is a tool that can help in determining suicidal risk.

Download this FREE S.L.A.P. Assessment Poster as an easy reminder of what to do in those critical discussions.

Imagine a world where hope smashes through the wreckage of suicide. A world where survivors and supporters join forces to become beacons of resilience. That world is within reach, but it takes action. We all have the power to learn, spread hope, and prevent this tragedy. Let’s acknowledge the issue with honesty and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. Remember, silence is the enemy. Let’s choose to spread hope and break the stigma. We can learn, support each other, and prevent tragedies.

Together, we can build a future where hope lights the way.

Written by David A. Opalewski.

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