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1-800-SUICIDE (in BC)

Some Facts & Myths

1. Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

  • Talking about suicide does not create or increase risk. The best way to identify the intention of suicide is to ask directly.
  • Open talk and genuine concern is a source of release, and one of the key elements in preventing the immediate risk of suicide.

2. A person who attempts suicide is only looking for attention.

  • For some, these behaviors are serious invitations to others to help them live. If help is not available, they may feel it will never come.
  • Ignoring suicidal thoughts or actions can be dangerous.
  • Help with problems and help in finding others to show need is more likely to be effective in reducing suicidal behaviors.

3. Those who attempted suicide in the past won't try it again.

  • 4 out of 5 people who have died by suicide have made at least one previous attempt. 

4. Most suicides are caused by one sudden traumatic event.

  • A sudden traumatic event may hasten a decision to suicide, but most often many feelings and events have occured for a long time.

5. A suicidal person clearly wants to die.

  • What they want most often is a way to handle circumstances in their life that are difficult and impossible to bear. Escape from the pain of these events may be their intention.
  • They may not actually want to carry through with suicide, but instead, desire to avoid life in its present form.

6. Suicide is generally carried out without warning.

  • 30% of suicides have been preceded with warning signs.

7. Males have the highest rate of suicidal behavior in North America.

  • Males die by suicide approximately 4 times more often than females, yet females attempt suicide approximately 4 times more often than males. Therefore, females have the highest RATE of suicidal behavior.

Causes, Warning Signs, Prevention

Suicide is a significant cause of death in Canada that annually exceeds deaths due to motor vehicle accidents and crime. Many nations’ governments spend vast amounts of money on safer roads, but very little on suicide awareness and prevention, or on educating people about how to make healthy life choices.

Attempts at suicide, and suicidal thoughts or feelings are usually a symptom indicating that a person is not coping, often as a result of some event or series of events that are overwhelmingly traumatic or distressing. Sometimes, the events will pass, the impact can be lessened, and the overwhelming feelings will gradually fade. But this is not always the case.

People have thoughts of suicide when the problems in their lives exceed their ability to cope with them and it is often more about escaping the pain than actually dying – they cannot see any other options.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of stigma surrounding the subject of suicide and because of this, the suicidal person does not always reach out for help, or get the help he or she needs.

In order to work through the stigma, here are a number of frequently asked questions to help raise awareness and dispel some of the common myths about suicide:

Why do people attempt suicide?

People usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain, which can be caused by a wide variety of problems. It is important to note also that it is not necessarily the problems that will bring a person to thoughts of suicide, but rather how they perceive the problem. It is often a cry for help. Persons attempting suicide are so distressed that they are unable to see that they have other options. We can help prevent a tragedy by encouraging the person at risk to talk and by listening without judgment. People with thoughts of suicide usually feel terribly isolated and may not think there is anyone to whom they can turn.

In the vast majority of cases, persons at risk would choose differently if they were not in great distress and were able to evaluate their options objectively. Most suicidal people give indications that they are in distress in the hope that they will be helped, because they are intent on stopping their emotional pain, not on dying.

Does talking about suicide encourage it?

Talking about the feelings surrounding suicide promotes understanding and can greatly reduce the immediate distress of a suicidal person. In particular, it is okay to ask someone if she or he is considering suicide, if you suspect that the person is not coping. If the individual is feeling suicidal, it can come as a great relief to see that someone else has some insight into how he or she feels.

This can be a difficult question to ask, so here are some possible approaches:

  • “Are you feeling so bad that you’re considering suicide?”
  • “That sounds like an awful lot for one person to take. Has it made you think about killing yourself to escape?”
  • “Has all that pain you’re going through made you think that you don’t want to live anymore?”

The most appropriate way to raise the subject will depend upon the situation and how comfortable people feel. It is also important to take the person’s overall response into consideration when interpreting her or his answer, since a person in distress may initially say “no” even if they mean “yes.” A person who is not feeling suicidal will usually be able to give a comfortable “no” answer, and will often continue by mentioning about specific reasons he or she has for living. It can also be helpful to ask individuals what they would do if they were ever in a situation where they were seriously considering killing themselves, in case they become suicidal at some point in the future, or if they are suicidal but do not initially feel comfortable telling you.

cont' HERE