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Suicide prevention: A psychologist debunks common myths

Seek professional help, visit a mental health specialist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. For immediate aid, seek assistance from suicide helplines

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | December 9, 2020 12:30:32 pm
Suicide prevention, common myths, tv actor suicide, how to prevent suicide, death by suicide, suicide signs, mental health, depression,Individuals may not ask for help directly, but the warning signs are always present, says a psychologist. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 800,000 deaths by suicide worldwide every year. This means, on average, 1 suicidal attempt every 40 seconds. However, due to some myths around suicide, people usually fail to identify warning signs at the right time and offer support, said Niharika Mehta, psychologist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital.

Below, she debunks some of such common myths

Myth: People who are suicidal are weak

Fact: Suicide is an attempt to escape physical and emotional pain. People with suicidal tendencies don’t want to die; they want the pain to stop.

Myth: People who attempt suicide are mentally and emotionally disturbed

Fact: Most often, people with a diagnosis of a mental illness think about suicide. But, not all individuals who think about suicide have a mental disorder. Most commonly, depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide come together. Therefore, attaching such strong labels does nothing but adds to one’s emotional pain.

Myth: People who talk about suicidal intentions are only seeking attention

Fact: It is not easy to talk about your feelings. So when someone says they are thinking about suicide, they have gathered immense courage to voice their thoughts and emotions. They should always be taken seriously. Yes, they are seeking attention as a cry for help; they want someone to notice they are not feeling okay. They should be given all the emotional support they ask for.

Myth: Asking if one is suicidal, triggers the behaviour and encourages an individual

Fact: Thoughts about suicide begin when there is no visible escape or solution to the problem. Most often, these individuals do not want a solution. They only want to be accepted and given support to cope with problems by themselves. So asking about suicidal thoughts does not encourage them to act. It shows that you noticed their pain and you are ready to support them in their difficult time.

WHO also mentions that talking openly about suicide can give an individual “other options or the time to rethink his/her decision, thereby preventing suicide”.

Myth: They never ask for help

Fact: The decision to attempt suicide does not happen overnight. Individuals may not ask for help directly, but the warning signs including mood swings, unusual sleeping patterns, etc are always present. You only need to look for it and do something about it.

What to do?

Seek professional help, visit a mental health specialist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. For immediate aid, seek assistance from suicide helplines.

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