More Myths about Suicide

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This post is one that has personally just affected me, and I wonder how many people since the last post, about suicide myths, have had an event come up in their lives as well. That is one of the many reasons it is important to discuss this topic even though it is a challenging one to discuss. The more we know the more we can help and raise awareness. And I share this brief self-disclosure to let people know that no matter who we are, we could be affected by suicide at any point. Sometimes people are silently suffering, and we don’t know until drastic measures have been taken. So, I write this with hope that the more we know and can share the bigger impact it can make on those who are suffering.  I want to encourage you all to follow-up and show care to all people because we never know the full impact it may have on a person, even if it seems like nothing to us, it could be everything to someone else.

Myth 4: “If people want to die by suicide, we can’t stop them.” You may be asking what can I do to try and support someone from not dying by suicide? Well one major way we can all help is supporting suicide barriers on bridges and other landmarks. Research has found that people who are restrained from a highly lethal attempt will generally not attempt later. What this looks like is that actually up to 95% have been recorded as not having had a second attempt, if their first one was prevented/stopped. To debunk the myth that “a person will go elsewhere if one means is restricted is false.” Providing restraints can save lives. For all of use this means if our city or town is debating implementing a suicide barrier or increased security for potentially lethal places, being in support of these things can save lives at the low-cost of it potentially being “unpleasing” to the eye. What is the real cost? It is also crucial that we know about the suicidal brain and the ambivalence about death that a person can have. This is important because when people are in this state it may not actually take them that much to tip and lean to either the side of life or death. There have been accounts of people deciding to die or not based if someone smiles at them or not. This can be used as motivation to for us to show others we care, even if it is from stranger to stranger. We can leave a bigger impact.

Myth 5: “It’s just a cry for help.” People will say “talk is cheap” but really it should be “talk is usually cheap.” Talk usually precedes action. While some people who talk about suicide may not go onto die a portion of those people will. And are we really willing to take that risk? I surely hope not. Think of it in terms of when a person complains about a health ailment. If they are complaining about chest pain, for many this may not be a serious issue but for others this can be life threatening. Would someone really ignore those signs? Similarly, we should not ignore any suicidal signs either because they can be life threatening. Thinking back to the suicidal mind and how people can feel ambivalence about life, if a person thinks no one cares when they are voicing their intent, then that could push them to lean more on the side of death. However, if we are able to show care and support that could be enough to save them. The American Association of Suicidology has recorded “talking about suicide” to be at the tip of the list of warning signs. Listen to the warning signs and seek help for others and yourself because people care. If people are able to say something about their mental state, it is because they are looking for some type of support and may now know what that is.

Myth 6: “Does hospitalization lead to suicide?” It is important to note there is a relationship between suicide deaths and hospitalization. However, it is necessary to know this does not mean hospitalization causes suicide deaths. The severity of what a person is going through is a large component to keep in mind that can play a role in both death and hospitalization. Due to ethical dilemmas it is challenging to do the standard clinician trials that other studies are able to conduct.  However, research has been done to assess hospital treatment as usual and more intense treatment. What has been remarkable about these studies is that both have been found to be effective for treatment which can be an encouragement for those treated at a hospital. In order for hospitals to be effective they need to be a competent facility. And for people to have a blanket statement that they are not helpful can be extremely endangering for people. Sometimes people who are suicidal need to be asked if they have considered a hospital stay and other times, they need to be told that a hospital stay is necessary for their safety. This may feel harsh, but it can be lifesaving to help stabilize and support people.

Hopefully learning about these myths has been enlightening and encouraging as to the small role we may be able to play in a person’s life that could greatly impact them. Thomas Joiner discussed these topics in his book Myths about Suicide and is a great recourse for people. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide or self-harm, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911. Please take action to support each other and ourselves, help is available to you! On our website under “For Clients” -> “Forms” is also a list of different emergency numbers. Please feel welcome to set up an appointment by calling 303.353.9226 or emailing edmonds@brightsidecounseling.net.

 

Sarah Richards

 

Reference

Joiner, T. (2011) Myths about Suicide. Harvard University Press.

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