Choices for Wellbeing: Myths and facts about suicide

As new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that suicides are increasing in England and Wales, the need for suicide prevention is greater than ever.

Especially considering recent findings that 8,000 people reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

There are many myths surrounding suicide, so we thought we’d set the record straight and explore some of the facts behind these myths.

Myth: We shouldn’t talk about suicide

Fact: Quite the opposite is true.

For many people, talking about suicidal feelings is a great source of help and support.  It can help someone express and understand their feelings better, get support and start to explore how to move forward.

Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it

Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. 

Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,” no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

Myth: Anyone who tries to kill themselves must be crazy

Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. 

They are upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily a sign of mental illness.

Myth: If someone is determined to kill themselves, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even a very severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death.

This can fluctuate between wanting to live and wanting to die. Rather than wanting death, they just want the pain to stop, and the impulse to end their life does not last forever.

Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help

Fact: Many people try to get help before attempting suicide. 

In fact, studies show that more than fifty percent of suicide victims had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea

Fact: You don’t give someone suicidal ideas by talking about suicide.

Rather, the opposite is true. Talking openly and honestly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can help save a life.

Myth: People who think about suicide are weak or selfish

Fact: Many people experience suicidal feelings at some point in their lives.

This can often be as a reaction to extreme pain or difficult circumstances, such as bereavement or trauma.  This has nothing at all to do with being strong

Myth: People who talk about suicide are just attention seeking

Fact: Talking about suicide is not attention-seeking. 

It’s a way of asking or seeking help.  Many people who go on to take their own lives have reached out for help first.

Take any suicidal talk or behaviour seriously.  It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide, it’s a cry for help.

Support for people feeling suicidal

If you’ve had suicidal thoughts, or you suspect that a work colleague, friend or family member might, further help and support is available.

Samaritans offers a 24-hours a day, 7-days-a-week support service. Call 116 123.

Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35. Call 0800 068 41 41.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a national helpline for men. Call 0800 58 58 58.

You can also call the free NHS 24-hour national helpline for health advice and information. Call 111.

For support on managing employees mental health and advice on how you can build suicide prevention into your own workplace wellbeing strategy, contact the team at Fusion today.

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Categories: Choices for WellbeingHealth & WellbeingMental HealthOccupational Health

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