Myths & Stigmas
Fallacy – People who talk about suicide don’t take their own lives.
Fact – Many studies indicate that as many as 60-80% of those who suicide had communicated their intentions before they died.
Fallacy – All people who suicide are crazy.
Fact – Crazy and insane are words we all use, applied mostly to people who behave in ways that seem strange to us. They are also used to label those who are suffering from serious emotional illnesses that affect their behaviour. Some people who are suffering from psychotic disorders may take their lives because their perceptions are severely distorted.
Fallacy – Improvement of suicidal patient means the danger is over.
Fact – Even after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, one must be aware of another. In cases of depressive illness, suicide is more likely to occur when the person is improving. It may also be true that improvement is only on the surface while deep inside the suicidal people are not really better. Certain people grow calm and appear happy just before suicide because they are no longer in conflict over whether or not to live.
Fallacy – Nothing can be done about suicide. If they really want to do it they will.
Fact – Rapid early admission to hospital saves lives. U.S. Airforce was able to reduce suicide by 50% through early Intervention.
Fallacy – Chances of suicide can be reduced by not talking about it.
Fact – Actually, one can reduce the chances of suicide by bringing the subject into the open. Since what you say to a suicidal person may play a large part in the life or death of another person you can see how important it is to know what to say or what not to say. Knowing not to treat suicide as a taboo subject is one of the first steps toward prevention. The old attitude of hiding or denying suicide has been the cause of many unnecessary deaths. Talking about suicide with a person who is trained to help can often minimise the anxiety going with this kind of thinking and may prevent the action taking place. If you recognise a clue to suicide in someone, pick up the phone and get a suicide prevention centre or other emergency centre to help him or her.
Fallacy – Suicidal persons avoid medical help.
Fact – Studies show as many as 60-70% had sought medical help within six months before the suicide.
Fallacy – There is a type of person who suicides.
Fact – There is no “type” where suicide is concerned. Male/Female, young/old and all ages in between, rich/poor and middle income, people of all shades of skin, manic and depressive, mentally ill and mentally healthy, these are all people who have been suicidal. Anyone might be.
Fallacy – Suicide attempts are seldom repeated.
Fact – The truth is that once a person tries death by suicide he or she is very likely to make another attempt.
Fallacy – Nothing can be done about suicide.
Fact – Many people, despite modern attitudes, believe nothing can be done about suicide and, although no statistics can be available for actual numbers of suicides that have been prevented by calls to suicide prevention centres, an untold number of people are alive today because of them.
Fallacy – Suicide is a spontaneous act.
Fact – Most suicidal people fantasize or plan their self-destruction long before making the attempt. They give numerous clues and warnings.
The Hidden Epidemic
Margaret O Hyde/Elizabeth Held Forsyth MD
Avery D Wiesman Massachusetts Gen. Hospital.