Understanding the facts can help you to help someone struggling to cope.
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Myth: People who talk about suicide aren't serious and won't go through with it.
Fact: People who kill themselves 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.
While it’s possible that someone might talk about suicide as a way of getting the attention they need, it’s vitally important to take seriously anybody who talks about feeling suicidal.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die - they do not want to live the life they have.
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. This is why getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important.
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 of death. However, many people who kill themselves do suffer with their mental health, typically to a serious degree. Sometimes it’s known about before the person’s death and sometimes not.
Myth: People who are suicidal want to die.
Fact: The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they do not want to live the life they have. The distinction may seem small but is in fact very important and is 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 feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel and so they don’t discuss it.
But by asking directly about suicide you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it is to be able to talk about what they're experiencing.
Once someone starts talking they’ve got a better chance of discovering other options to 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: 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.