This was originally published on Liberal America on September 4, 2016.
Thousands of teens attempt suicide every day. Parents and teachers play an important role in preventing suicides. Many people are uncomfortable with this topic. Don’t close this window. Spreading awareness saves lives. Learn this for your students, children, friends, nieces, nephews, and anyone else. Debunking these myths can save lives.
We need to face this problem head on. Here are six myths that you may have heard about the topic. David Jobes, the head of Catholic University’s Suicide Prevention Lab provided some answers to these myths.
This week (Sept. 5) is the National Suicide Prevention Week. Share this information everywhere.
1. Asking Someone if They Are Suicidal Doesn't Make Them Suicidal.
“There’s already issues and struggles around mental illness within our culture and society. It’s highly stigmatized, and suicide is even more stigmatized. It feels like something that’s just best left unsaid or untouched, kept under the rug, and that’s a problem in terms of saving lives.”
If you are trying to keep someone from taking their life, dancing around the question is not going to help. You need to get direct. Ask them point blank, “Are you thinking about taking your life?”
2. Suicides Are Only Caused By DepressionThis is definitely false. People with other kinds of mental illnesses are at risk for suicide. It’s not just depression. People with schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions also commit suicide.
“On average, about a hundred and some Americans die each day [from suicide]. About 40 to 50 of them might be depressed. Other diagnoses are relevant — like schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, substance abuse, anxiety disorders. It’s not just all about depression.”
3. We Can’t Prevent Suicides.This is absolutely false.
“We know very clearly that, with proper identification, proper support and treatments that are suicide-specific, we absolutely can make a difference and save lives. Most suicidal people who talk about suicide don’t really want to be dead. They’re giving other people lots of indications, lots of warning signs, lots of communications that this is something that they would like to not do, but it requires people identifying that and getting them the proper help.”
It is difficult, but suicides can be prevented. If you think someone you love is in trouble, do everything you can to help them. Support them and love them!
4. Suicide Happens On An Impulse
Some people may hurt themselves on impulse, but people who are really planning suicide put a lot more thought into it. They may be searching for things about it on the internet. They may be talking about death and dying.
Here are some more warning signs on this chart:
5. Young Children (5-12) Can't Be Suicidal
We don’t want to think about it, but young children take their lives as well. Every year in the United States, 30 – 35 children take their lives. This may be a shock. It seems impossible for a child that young to say “I want to kill myself.” This is an area that we don’t know as much about. Most suicide prevention literature starts at the 12-14 age range. The common method for children is running into the street.
6. Having A School Assembly Is A Good Idea
Overreacting is not necessarily the best way to handle the situation. This can cause copycats.
“We really want to have these conversations in smaller groups, especially among those kids who were most affected by the suicide. So, just a wholesale didactic event is not necessarily in the school’s best interest. And not necessarily the best way to prevent copycat suicides or additional suicides.”