Suicide Myths and Facts

Myth: Suicide typically happens without warning.
Fact: Most people who attempt or complete suicide give some indication of their intentions.

Myth: Suicidal people want to die.
Fact: People struggling with suicide are typically ambivalent about dying and will often seek help immediately after attempting to harm themselves. Part of them desires to stay alive in the hope that their distress will end and their lives will improve in the future.

Myth: Asking people about suicidal intentions will "put the idea into their heads" and increase the risk of an attempt.
Fact: Asking direct, caring questions shows that you care and are willing to help.

Myth: All suicidal people are depressed.
Fact: Depression is often associated with thoughts of suicide, but not all people who kill themselves are noticeably depressed. Paradoxically, an observed improvement in mood may be attributable to the person having decided to "solve" their problems by completing suicide.

Myth: There is no correlation between drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.
Fact: Alcohol, drugs, and suicide often go hand in hand. Even people who do not typically drink or use drugs may use substances shortly before killing themselves.

Myth: Suicide is most common around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Fact: Research suggests that suicide peaks in the spring. The reasons are likely complex but seem related to heightened distress over the contrast between the awakening springtime world and the experience of a bleak inner life. College students may be especially vulnerable during this period due to increased academic stress.

Myth: Once someone attempts suicide, that person will always be 'suicidal'.
Fact: If the person receives the proper support and assistance, they are typically about to lead a successful life without any additional suicidal action.

Myth: Mental health professionals are the only people who can help a person struggling with suicide.
Fact: Professional counseling is very important in reducing the risk of suicide, but nonprofessionals play an important role in detection and early intervention. It is important to know what to do if you interact with someone struggling with suicide.

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