Myths & Facts

Myths & Facts

Marianna Hawn and Phil Watson

12 Myths and 12 Facts About Helping Suicidal People, collated by Marianna Hawn and Phil Watson, from Friends for Life.

Myth: When the depression lifts, the suicide crisis is over.

Fact: When the person feels better, it is easier to carry through with a suicide. The apparent lifting of someone’s mood could mean the person has made a firm decision to suicide.


Myth:The only effective intervention for suicide comes from professional psychotherapists with extensive experience in this area.

Fact:All people who interact with suicidal adolescents can be in an excellent position to provide assistance by way of emotional support. Obviously the more informed the person is, the more likely it is that he/she will provide the right sort of help.


Myth: In dealing with a school community affected by a recent suicide it is only those who were closest to the deceased who are at risk and therefore in need of counselling and follow-up.

Fact:: Undoubtedly those closest will be in need of support and counselling to deal with their grief. However, students who may not have known the deceased young person who were having problems prior to the suicide may also be a risk.


Myth:Well-intentioned interventions always bring beneficial outcomes.

Fact:While this may be the desired scenario it is not necessarily the case. Good intentions are most effective when coupled with proper suicide intervention training.


Myth: Providing information on risk factors and warning signs to the general public leads to preventative action being taken.

Fact: We need more than information. Information must go together with vigilance and commitment.


Myth:Once a person has decided to kill him/herself, no one can stop him or her.

Fact:Suicide is a cry for help, not a wish to die and in many cases it can be prevented.


Myth: Most suicidal young people never seek or ask for help with their problems.

Fact: Quite the opposite. Evidence shows that they often tell their peers of their thoughts and plans. Adolescents are more likely to ask for help through non-verbal gestures than to express their situation verbally to others.


Myth:A person who attempts suicide and fails will not try again.

Fact:Of every five people who take their own lives, four have made one or more previous attempts. The link is clearly established between past attempting behaviour and subsequent suicide completion.


Myth: All suicidal young people are depressed.

Fact: While it is a contributory factor in most suicides, it does not necessarily have to be present, or obvious for suicide to be completed or attempted.


Myth:Suicidal people always leave a note.

Fact:Only a small proportion of people (less than 25%) leave a suicide note.


Myth: Suicidal people do not go to a doctor.

Fact: Up to 75% of people visited a doctor within 3 months before completing suicide.


Myth:Once people are suicidal, they always will be and they are beyond help.

Fact:The suicidal crisis is generally of a brief duration. Given proper assistance and support, they can recover and continue to lead meaningful and happy lives unhindered by suicidal concerns.