Myth: Depression is mostly a white, middle class problem.
Fact: Depression is an “equal opportunity illness” that can affect anyone, regardless of race or socioeconomic level. Depression and suicide rates among young African-American males and Hispanic teenage girls in particular have dramatically increased in the past 20 years.
Myth: Only depressed youth attempt suicide.
Fact: Children don’t have to be clinically depressed to have suicidal feelings or to attempt suicide. Even feeling extremely “bummed out” for a relatively short period of time can lead to impulsive suicide attempts. Nevertheless, a person who is clinically depressed for longer periods of time is at higher risk for attempting suicide.
Myth: People who talk about suicide don’t kill themselves.
Fact: People who are thinking about suicide usually find some way of communicating their pain to others – often by speaking indirectly about their intentions. Most suicidal people will admit to their feelings if questioned directly.
Myth: There’s really nothing you can do to help someone who’s truly suicidal.
Fact: Most people who are suicidal don’t really want their lives to end, they just want the pain to end. The understanding, support, and hope that you offer can be their most important lifeline.
Myth: Discussing suicide may cause someone to consider it or make things worse.
Fact: Asking someone if they’re suicidal will never give them an idea that they haven’t thought about already. Most suicidal people are truthful and relieved when questioned about their feelings and intentions. Doing so can be the first step in helping them to choose to live.
Myth: Telling someone to cheer up usually helps.
Fact: Trying to cheer someone up might make them feel even more misunderstood and ashamed of their thoughts and feelings. It’s important to listen well and take them seriously.
Myth: If someone promised to seek help, your job is done.
Fact: You need to make sure that any suicidal person stays safe until you can help them connect with a responsible adult.
Myth: People who complete suicide always leave notes.
Fact: Most people don't leave notes.
Myth: People who die from suicide don't warn others.
Fact: Eight out of 10 people who kill themselves have given definite clues to their intentions. They leave numerous clues and warnings to others, although some of their clues may be nonverbal or difficult to detect.
Myth: People who talk about suicide are only trying to get attention.
Fact: WRONG! Few people commit suicide without first letting someone else know how they feel. Those who are considering suicide give clues and warnings as a cry for help. In fact, most seek out someone to rescue them.
Myth: Once someone has already decided to complete a suicide, nothing is going to stop them. Suicidal people clearly want to die.
Fact: Most of the time, a suicidal person is ambivalent about the decision; they are torn between wanting to die and wanting to live. Most suicidal individuals just want the pain to stop. Some people, seeing evidence of two conflicting feelings in the individual may interpret the action as insincerity, saying, "He/she really doesn't want to do it; I don't think he/she is serious." Peoples' ability to help is hindered if they don't understand the common suicidal characteristic of ambivalence.
Myth: Once the emotional state improves, the risk of suicide is over.
Fact: The highest rates of suicide occur within approximately three months of an apparent improvement in a severely depressed state. Therefore, an improvement in emotional state doesn't mean a lessened risk.
Myth: After a person has attempted suicide, it is unlikely he/she will try again.
Fact: People who have attempted suicide can be very likely to try again. 80% of the people who die from suicide have made at least one previous attempt.
Myth: Suicide happens without warning.
Fact: There are almost always warning signs, but others are often unaware of the significance of the warnings or unsure about what to do.
Myth: Suicidal people are fully intent on dying.
Fact: Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal people desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.