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Suicide prevention: debunking common suicide myths

Posted on 07 September 2022


Suicide is extremely complex. The specific factors and feelings that can lead to someone taking their own life vary and are down to the individual’s circumstances. Recent research indicates that men aged 45-49 continue to be most at risk, but it can affect anyone at any time. It can be isolating when you're struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts, making you feel as if no one understands what you're going through. This is far from the truth, in fact, 1 in 5 people have thought about suicide at some time in their life. Even though it is rarely discussed, it is a real issue that's affected more people than we realise.

Asking for support at work

Taking care of yourself and your mental health should be your priority and most workplaces have tools in place to help you be the best you can be. Ask your manager if they offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). An EAP provides 24/7 access to trained advisors who can answer your concerns and give you actionable advice. Alternatively, you can schedule a face-to-face or phone session with a professional counsellor. Check with your employer to see if any of these services are available to you. In extreme cases, you may be able to take some time off so you can properly heal – this is subject to employer discretion. Getting the help, you need and understanding what’s available begins with asking for help.

Common suicide myths

The stigma and myths that surround suicide are barriers to people seeking the help they need and ultimately recovering from a suicidal crisis.

1. You have to be mentally ill to think about suicide

Fact: Not all people who die from suicide have mental health issues. Two in three suicides are by people who are not under mental health care. There are multiple, often interrelated reasons why someone may not seek formal support from mental health services. Difficulty or delays in accessing services, stigma or negative past health care experiences may all be contributing factors. For these reasons and many more, some people succumb to suicide without ever getting the help they need.

2. Talking about suicide is bad 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.

3. 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.

4. You can’t tell when someone is feeling suicidal

Fact: Suicide is complicated 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.

If you’re worried about someone, learn how to spot the signs that someone may not be OK.

For urgent support contact Samaritans. Another myth is that you can only call Samaritans if you’re suicidal. In reality. Samaritans are there, day or night, for anyone who needs to talk. You can call them free day or night on 116 123 or email [email protected].

Head to the Samaritans website for more myths about suicide.  

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