5 Myths About Suicide Debunked

Despite being all too common, suicide is often misunderstood.

Suicide is a serious issue, and was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2011. Despite being a common problem, there is a great deal of misunderstanding around suicide. This article will debunk five commonly held myths about suicide.

Myth #1: People who commit suicide are selfish

People who commit suicide are suffering. Depression is commonly associated with suicide and can cause distorted thoughts.

Someone who chooses to end their life often feels that they have no other option. While this is not necessarily rational thinking, it happens to be realistic for the person who is suffering. Suicide may seem like a selfish act to others, but does not mean that someone is selfish. Rather, they are most often suffering and in unimaginable pain.

Myth #2: People who commit suicide are weak

The majority of people who commit suicide have been struggling with a mental illness of some kind, often depression. A diagnosis of cancer or any other disease does not indicate that someone is weak, and neither does a diagnosis of a mental illness. As in the first myth, problems that can lead to suicidal feelings can warp someone's thinking and cause them to seem out of touch with the reality that is shared among many others, but suicide does not by definition demonstrate any kind of weakness on someone's character.

More often than not, someone who commits suicide has gone through tremendously difficult times in his or her life in strength, and is seeking relief.

Myth #3: People who talk about suicide are just looking for attention

Sadly, the idea that those who speak about wanting to end their lives are not serious and just attention seekers is a commonly held belief that is simply not true.

The good news is that many people who are faced with suicidal thoughts question themselves, and often reach out for help by mentioning it. Suicide has warning signs that are not necessarily difficult to pick up on if someone is paying attention. It is crucial to always take a person seriously if they start talking about thoughts of ending their lives.

Myth #4: Never bring up suicide with someone who is depressed because you might give them the idea to kill themselves

Chances are, if someone is depressed, the thought of suicide in one way or another has likely already crossed their mind. Many people, depressed or not, have thought theoretically about what it might be like to end their lives. There is no need to worry about planting the idea of suicide in someone's mind.

Thoughts of suicide are most destructive when a person keeps them to himself or herself. Asking someone questions about whether or not he or she has considered suicide can actually be very helpful. The person with such thoughts may feel a great deal of relief from being able to speak with someone about this difficult topic.

This kind of discussion can also be the first step to getting appropriate help, such as psychotherapy.

Myth #5: If someone makes the decision to commit suicide, it is impossible to stop them

The majority of suicides are actually preventable. Many suicides have been stopped thanks to appropriate mental health treatment, concerned loved ones and the many hotlines that exist for people who are suffering. The decision to commit suicide is rarely an easy one, and many struggle with this decision for years before actually taking action on it. Someone who commits suicide does not necessarily want to die, but wants to be out of pain. Suicide is one of the most preventable forms of death that exists.

If you are someone you know is considering suicide or struggling with any kind of mental health crisis, the National Suicide Lifeline is a resource that is staffed by trained and skilled crisis counselors at all hours:  

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


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). National Vital Statistics Report, Deaths: Final 
Data for 2011,
63, 3.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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