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Suicide Myths

National suicide prevention lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)


There are many commonly held misconceptions about suicide. These myths of suicide stand in the way of providing assistance for those who are at risk. By dispelling the myths, people are in a better position to identify those who are at risk and to provide the help that is needed.

MYTH  #1

People who talk a lot about suicide but never do it, shows that it is manipulation. This means they won’t do it.

MYTH  #2

If someone hands you a note, and makes you promise to keep it but do not open it until the future, take it and keep the promise. (A sealed note is a late sign in the progression toward suicide.)

MYTH  #3

Most suicides happen out of the blue. There really isn’t any warning. Everyone is shocked and dismayed.

MYTH  #4

If a person attempts suicide and survives, they are usually so shocked and remorseful (if they don’t die), that they never dream of doing it again. It’s like a failed attempt is the best cure. (A suicide attempt is regarded as an indicator of further attempts. It is likely that the level of danger will increase with each further suicide attempt.)

MYTH  #5

Once a person is intent on suicide, there is no way of stopping them. They simply won’t listen. (Suicides can be prevented and people can be helped. Many times suicidal thinking and planning is short-lived.)

MYTH  #6

The only person that can help a suicidal person is a psychiatrist. The rest of us are pretty powerless. (Support can come from anywhere. Suicidal people do respond to the support and encouragement of others.)

MYTH  #7

Most suicidal people never seek or ask for help with their problems; hence, they get to a point where they bottom out. (Most suicidal people have sought counseling for their problems, and adults have usually seen a medical professional within the past three months!)

MYTH  #8

Suicidal people will freak out and hate you forever if you violate their trust and run to get the police or do something effective to stop them. (Most express gratitude that someone stopped them.)

MYTH  #9

Suicidal people are insane or mentally ill. (No, being unhappy, angry, or upset enough to commit suicide is not alone a definition of insane, although suicidal behavior may accompany a mental illness such as depression or other personality disorder.)

MYTH #10

Most suicides occur in winter months when the weather is poor or in areas that are cloudy and hardly ever get any sun — like the Pacific Northwest. (The top three states for suicide are Alaska, New Mexico, and Nevada. New Mexico and Nevada are VERY sunny places.)

MYTH  #11

Every death is preventable. There never has to be a suicide. Someone could have always done something. (Unfortunately, not true. There is no way of preventing all suicides from occurring.)

MYTH  #12

People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention. (All suicide attempts should be taken seriously. Believing that a suicide attempt or threat is a manipulative ploy is usually designed to satisfy one's need to deny its seriousness and feel less anxiety over the decision to take action to and intervene.)


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)