Understanding the facts can help you to help someone struggling to cope.
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Myth: You can’t ask someone if they’re suicidal
Fact: Evidence shows asking someone if they’re suicidal could protect them. Asking someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts can give them permission to tell you how they feel and let them know they are not a burden.
Myth: You can only call Samaritans if you’re suicidal
Fact: Samaritans are here, day or night, for anyone who needs to talk. You can call them free day or night on 116 123 or email [email protected]
Myth: People who talk about suicide aren't serious and won't go through with it.
Fact: People who die by suicide have often told someone that they do not feel life is worth living or that they have no future. Some may have actually said they want to die.
It's possible that someone might talk about suicide as a way of getting attention, in the sense of calling out for help.
It’s important to always take someone seriously if they talk about feeling suicidal. Helping them get the support they need could save their life.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die - they just want the situation they’re in or the way they’re feeling to stop.
Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves then there's nothing you can do.
Fact: Often, feeling actively suicidal is temporary, even if someone has been feeling low, anxious or struggling to cope for a long period of time. Getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important. In a situation where someone is having suicidal thoughts, be patient, stay with them and just let them know you're there. Remember, if you think it's an emergency or someone had tried to harm themselves- call 999
Myth: You have to be mentally ill to think about suicide.
Fact: 1 in 5 people have thought about suicide at some time in their life. And not all people who die by suicide have mental health problems at the time they die.
However, many people who die by suicide have struggled with their mental health, typically to a serious degree. This may or may not be known before the person's death.
Myth: People who are suicidal want to die.
Fact: The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they just want the situation they’re in or the way they’re feeling to stop. The distinction may seem small, but it is very important. It's why talking through other options at the right time is so vital.
Myth: Talking about suicide is a bad idea as it may give someone the idea to try it.
Fact: Suicide can be a taboo topic. Often, people who are feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel and so they don’t discuss it.
But, by asking someone directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who are struggling or have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing.
Once someone starts talking, they’ve got a better chance of discovering options that aren't suicide.
Evidence shows asking someone if they're suicidal can protect them. They feel listened to, and hopefully less trapped. Their feelings are validated, and they know that somebody cares about them. Reaching out can save a life.
Rory O'Connor, Professor of Health Psychology at Glasgow University
Myth: Most suicides happen in the winter months.
Fact: Suicide is complex, and it's not just related to the seasons and the climate being hotter or colder, and having more or less light. In general, suicide is more common in the spring, and there's a noticeable peak in risk on New Year's Day.
Myth: People who say they are going to take their own life are just attention seeking and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Fact: Talking openly about suicide to a loved one, colleague, professional or a Samaritan can help someone work through their thoughts and help them find a way to cope. People who say they want to end their lives should always be taken seriously. It may well be that they want attention in the sense of calling out for help and helping them get support may save their life. Being able to talk openly about suicide can help someone work through their thoughts.
Myth: You can’t tell when someone is feeling suicidal
Fact: Suicide is complex and how people act when they’re struggling to cope is different for everyone. Sometimes there are signs someone might be going through a difficult time or having difficult thoughts. For some people, several signs might apply - for others just one or two, or none. Find out more on how to spot the signs that someone may not be OK.
Supporting someone who is at crisis point can be distressing. It’s important to look after yourself too. If you need to talk, you can call Samaritans free on 116 123, anytime of the day or night.