Talking about suicide and suicidal behaviour can be difficult for many people. One reason for this is that it’s a subject about which there are many misconceptions. This means that it’s considered a ‘taboo’ topic for many people.
While the concept of suicide can understandably make us feel uncomfortable, talking about it can help break the stigma for those affected by it. Indeed, if someone in your life isn’t coping, reaching out to them could help them manage life better.
Some common myths and facts about suicide
Suicide myth: Asking someone if they are suicidal will put the idea in their head.
Suicide fact: You cannot make a person suicide by showing that you are concerned. You should speak up if you are worried. You can ask the person directly if they are feeling suicidal or if they have been thinking about suicide. By discussing it openly and honestly, you are giving the person the opportunity to express their feelings and provide them with some relief from feeling isolated.
Suicide myth: There are no warning signs that someone may be suicidal.
Suicide fact: A person who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to those around them that show they are distraught and overwhelmed. Talking to someone about suicide can be difficult, so you may want to check out our suicide prevention pages for information and tips on how to start a conversation.
Suicide myth: It’s my fault they feel suicidal.
Suicide fact: It is not your fault. Suicide is complex, and many things can contribute to a person’s risk. The feelings and thoughts of a suicidal person are based on factors mostly outside your control. It could be their interpretation of a stressful event or the way they view their future.
Suicide myth: If someone talks about suicide, they probably don’t intend to follow through with it.
Suicide fact: If someone talks about suicide or self-harms they are probably reaching out for help. It can mean they are seriously considering it. If it is an emergency, call 000.
Suicide myth: Once a person feels suicidal, they will always feel that way.
Suicide fact: Suicidal thoughts are not permanent, and a person can change their mind. People can get help and go on to live long and healthy lives.
Suicide myth: Only people diagnosed with mental disorders are suicidal.
Suicide fact: Not everyone who is suicidal has a mental disorder. Many people with mental disorders are not affected by suicidal behaviour.
Suicide myth: Suicide is an act of selfishness.
Suicide fact: Many people who attempt suicide feel like they are a burden and family and friends will be better off without them. The person may feel hopeless and believe that things will never improve.
We need to dispel these suicide myths if we’re going to help people in our community. If you are concerned about someone: Ask, listen, support, encourage and check-in.
Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online social and mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.