Misconception thought: Suicide is so selfish. How can one not think about their family and friends who will be affected?
The truth: a feature of suicide ideation is feeling hopeless and worthless. Some suicidal and/or depressed individuals feel that they are unloved or unlovable and that they’ll be doing those around them a favor by no longer living. If there are additional issues in which family has had to take care of or be concerned about the individual, they might feel they’re lifting a burden from their loved ones by ending their life.
Misconception thought: Those who want to commit suicide are weak or insane.
The truth: Everyone responds to life situations differently and emotional pressure manifests itself in different ways. NO ONE experiences pain or stress unaffected. While some may have trouble sleeping, others may exhibit anger, withdraw from friends, cry or lose their appetite. Some take on additional hobbies or interests to cope with distress or put some extra focus into their job. Suicidal thoughts are often a symptom of depression, and going into a depression can also be a result of distress. The bottom line is that we ALL express our stress in some way, and this expression-whatever that expression may be- does not make us weak or weaker than anyone else.
Those with severe cases of emotional or mental disorders like schizophrenia are sometimes suicidal, but not all suicidal individuals have severe disorders or are ‘insane.’ There are many fully functioning adults and young people with depression or are depressive with suicide ideation.
Misconception thought: If one feels suicidal, it’s usually for one specific reason or over one specific experience.
The truth: Suicide or suicide ideation is NOT about an event; it’s about a feeling. Those who want to die are trying to desperately escape OVERWHELMING pain, anguish, anxiety and suffering that can be the result of a CULMINATION of events or the physical or biological factors that cause depression (Genetic dispositions and chemical imbalances are among the physical factors of depression. One doesn’t have to experience a difficult life event to have depression).
Misconception thought: Suicide is a choice.
The truth: No one chooses to be so depressed that will want to end their life. Yes, for those not deemed incapacitated, to initiate the act is a choice, but suicidal feelings or depression isn’t. If it were as simple as making a different selection, people would put themselves in a better position instantly.
Misconception thought: Some people pretend to be suicidal and just want attention.
The truth: All suicidal claims must be taken seriously. Those who later claim to be kidding or ‘just fine’ may have alternative reasons for retracting their statements and may still want to commit the act. And so what if someone ‘just wants’ attention? Clearly, if someone is behaviorally crying out for attention, they feel ignored or neglected, and no one wants to feel that. It is better to try to figure out why someone desires attention so badly, than to condemn them for wanting to be visible.
There are many more suicide myths and misconceptions; I wanted to highlight these few because they are the misconceptions I hear the most when discussing this topic with others. As I encourage in some of my other articles and video blogs, seek more understanding when something perplexes you. More understanding makes it easier for us to love others like they wish to be loved and for us to receive the love we need.
Suicide Risk and Protective Factors
American Association of Suicidology