Saturnine

"The darkness brings me home, rewarding me with peace"

Common myths on suicide

There are many myths about suicide, some of them are so well-known that we might call them stereotypical. However, it is dangerous to believe these myths—most of the times, it is much better to take all the warning signs seriously.

“Those who speak about killing themselves will never do it; if one really wants to die, (s)he just does it, without any warnings!”

This is not true at all. Most suicidals don’t just make the decision overnight and wake up being absolutely determined to kill themselves. There is an enormous ambivalence around the question, and suicidals usually try to seek for some kind of help or understanding; even if they might not communicate it perfectly, they need—and in a certain stage, would be willing to accept—help.
Possible indirect forms of expressiong suicidal thoughts are:
“I cannot take it any longer.”
“The world would be a better place without me.”

“It is better to not mention suicide. Talking about it is equal to giving inspiration to it.”

Absolutely dangerous attitude! If you do not mention it, or obsessively want to keep yourself apart from the question (for example, violently neglecting or not wanting to talk about it), this means you are willing to leave them alone with the suicidal thoughts.

“Attempted suicide and completed suicide are basically the same.”

Well, not at all. In some cases, they are, but in other cases, the suicide attempt itself is a cry for help, without the real intention of wanting to die.

If—for example—a little kid plays that he would commit suicide, takes a whole box of vitamintablets and lays on his bed “to die”, it surely is the worst idea to laugh at his “lovely naivety”. It might be only the question of time until he finds the right method. Even Rain mentioned on the old Suicide Stories site that in her childhood, she tried to “poison herself” by drinking shampoo. Not much more than 10 years later, she poisoned herself—this time, for real, and not with shampoo :{

Theatrical suicide attempts might be the most serious warning signs. Even if the individual “only wants attention” and not really wants to die, a theatrical “suicide attempt” can be a real cry for help.
It is also common that certain theatrical suicide attempts were not meant to be real, the individual just wanted to communicate his or her despair… but (s)he was too successful in it. A very well-known example for this was Csilla Molnár, Miss Hungary in 1985: she took some of her father’s medicines—as of a desperate suicide attempt -, and the ambulance could not save her life. Her last words—before she lost consciousness—were “Mommy, I do not want to die!”

“Those who commit, attempt or even think of suicide are psychotic, abnormal ones with personality disorders.”

Definitely not. They say that there is at least one occasion in everyone’s life when we feel “it would be better to be dead!”
Of course, not everyone goes any further than this—but it is not impossible, not even for a “normal” person to get into a situation where (s)he feels so desperate, isolated and hopeless that suicide seems to be the only possible and rational solution. Feeling hopeless, experiencing an extremely painful, humiliating or otherwise frustrating situation one cannot cope with—is not necessarily and not always equal to mental disorder. (I wonder how many others thought “if I went crazy, it would have been much easier to survive this…”)
Many suicidals can functionate very well in social situations, only approx. 10% of them are mentally/psychically sick.

“Children never commit suicide.”

They do. Think about bullycide, for example. (Sadly enough, there are many kids who experience so much cruelty from their schoolmates that they would rather die than to endure this.)
A possible reason for that the statistics show hardly any child/teenager suicides is that they mention a suicide rather as an “accident” or “sudden death”.

  • “If someone shows obviously positive, cheerful and harmonic behaviour—right after an episode of severe depression and expressed suicidal thoughts -, this means that (s)he is not in danger of committing suicide any more.”

    No. Usually, the truth is quite the opposite.
    Watch out for your suicidal/depressed friend or family member, and never, ever believe in “sudden recovery from depression”. Not even if you would like to believe in it.
    Such a sudden change in behaviour and attitude—in many cases—mean that the individual has decided to end his/her life; the thought of “everything will be over in a short time” brings ease and better mood to them. Many bereaved family members, friends and spouses told about that the suicidal persons in their last days of their lives had been more optimistic, seemed to be stronger and concentrated than ever.
    Especially watch out for mysterious statements like “Oh, you needn’t worry about me any more!”
    (A teenage girl—whose story is quite well-known in Hungary, I would rather not mention her name—is said to have given all her pocket money to her classmates with the following comment: “I will not need the money any more!”, and she was laughing. Later that day, she took her life.)
    Quite ironically, sometimes the serious depression is what stops certain individuals from doing the deed. It might sound like a morbid joke, but there does exist such a thing as “being too depressed to commit suicide.” This likeably has something in common with that most suicides happen at the early springtime—the last two weeks of March and the first three weeks of April.

    “Most suicides happen around Christmas time.”

    No. Most suicidals feel much better at the end of the year—they tend to hope that the new year brings new and positive changes in their lives. When at the beginning of the spring, they face that everything is the same as the year before—and the other years before, they get more desperate than ever. In addition, spring usually brings new energy to everyone—but in the case of seriously suicidal persons, this energy is used for taking their lives.

    “Those who commit suicide are unwilling to seek help.”

    No. Many suicidal persons are active on selfhelp groups or consult a therapist. They say that about half of those who did the deed, had sought medical help in the half/one year prior to their suicide.

    “If someone is willing to take their lives, no-one and nothing can stop them from doing so.”

    Absolutely false. Every suicidal feels ambivalent, most of them have mixed emotions—longing for being dead and longing for life—until the very last moment. (Otherwise, contemplating suicide would never last for months or years, they would just decide and go through it.) The thing is not as “binary” as you might think.

    Resources I used:

    Udbredte myter—Widely known myths (dk)

    Back to the articles »»