Suicide – Myth Buster

Heartbreakingly, suicide rates are on the rise. In this fast paced world of fake news and misinformation, I wanted to write a blog about suicide, that looks at some key facts and figures. With the aim of educating, busting some myths and with the hope of getting people talking.

Before we get started, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, it is vitally important that you seek professional help. Go and see your doctor as soon as possible, alternatively you can call The Samaritans freephone on 116 123 day or night.

In this blog, we will specifically look at key figures relating to suicides in the UK, and busting the following myths about suicide, as stated in a fantastic free app called Stay Alive:

  • Asking someone about suicide will put the idea in their head and make them more likely to kill themselves,
  • Talking about suicide is attention seeking behaviour,
  • Thinking about suicide means someone is mentally ill,
  • If someone tells a professional about their thoughts of suicide, they will be sectioned and admitted to hospital (detained under the Mental Health Act),
  • Thinking about suicide is rare and unusual.

Key Figures Relating to Suicide

The Samaritans published some key facts from 2018.

In 2018, there were 6507 suicides in the UK. Deaths by suicides rose by 10.9% in the UK in 2018. In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women. In the UK, the highest suicide rate is among men aged 45 to 49. The rate of deaths among under 25s increased by 23.7%!

Myths about Suicide

Asking someone about suicide will put the idea in their head and make them more likely to kill themselves

It goes without saying that this is completely false. I’ve read similar things about talking about mental health in general. In fact I remember one article talking about educating kids in secondary school. That by talking to kids about mental health it would almost encourage issues to occur. That’s really not the case. The article made me smile because it said that maybe we should stop educating kids about the second world war too, in case they might leave school and become nazi’s!

Anyway, research has shown that it is not dangerous to ask someone about suicidal thoughts. The fact of the matter being that if they are thinking about it, then by others knowing, the individual can be supported. If they say no, then what’s the issue? No harm done right?

Don’t think twice about asking someone if they are OK or specifically about suicidal thoughts. If they answer “yes”, then you can support them, if “no”, then no harm done.

I know from experience, being able to talk about it with someone is such a burden lifted off your shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest things I ever did, to open up about it to loved ones, but what a positive difference it made!

Talking about suicide is attention seeking behaviour

I just want to say from the off, if you genuinely think that someone talking about suicide is attention seeking, you need to take yourself off and have a word with yourself.

If someone is openly considering suicide, what right do you have to decide if it is attention seeking or not? The stakes are far too high when it comes to this.

Having been there myself, I can tell you that to be in a position where you think suicide is the answer, is the darkest, loneliest, hopeless and most painful place a person can be. People expressing suicidal thoughts need support more than ever, not judgment.

Stigma’s prevent people that suffer from mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, from reaching out for help. Let’s break the stigma’s and normalise mental health to get people talking.

The Stay Alive app, states that most people who die by suicide have talked about it first.

Kindness is the first thing you should give, so always take talk of suicide seriously.

Thinking about suicide means someone is mentally ill

This myth for me is all about stigma’s attached to mental health.

I must hold my hand up and say I attached mental health stigma’s to myself when I was suffering in silence. For example I didn’t want my friends and family thinking I was weak. But I also didn’t want people thinking I was ‘crazy’.

If someone is thinking that someone else is mentally ill, do they think of this illness in the same way they would think about a physical illness, as something normal? As something that literally affects millions of people worldwide?

Or do they think of them as ‘mad’, ‘crazy’ and someone to be avoided?

Anyway, the truth about suicide and mental illness, is that you can be having suicidal thoughts and not have a mental illness. Not that there is anything wrong with having a mental illness – apart from the fact it just needs addressing. It’s also important to realise that it is possible to have bad mental health, without having a mental illness!

if someone tells a professional about their thoughts of suicide, they will be sectioned and admitted to hospital (detained under the mental health act)

It’s really important that people know the truth about this myth, as it could be something that stops someone seeking vital professional medical help.

I’m going to type this straight from the app as it’s so important.

“A section is only used when three people (an approved mental health professional or nearest relative and two doctors) agree that the person is suffering from a mental health disorder and needs to be detained for assessment or treatment, either for their own safety or others. If a person with thoughts of suicide has no mental illness, it is very unlikely that they will be sectioned.”

Just because you tell a medical professional about your suicidal thoughts, does not mean that you will be sectioned. The best thing you can do is be as open and honest as possible. There are lots of kind, friendly people out there, wanting to help you.

So if you are having suicidal thoughts or you know of someone that is, please please please seek help, it will not mean that you will be sectioned, the likely worst that will happen is you will be able to get some support and advice. So please reach out.

thinking about suicide is rare and unusual

So if you are having suicidal thoughts and you are thinking that this makes you ‘odd’, or ‘strange’ or ‘crazy’, and you don’t want to seek help because it will separate you from everyone else and make you different…think again.

Research shows that 5% of us will consider suicide in any year. But the vast majority will not act on their thoughts. Thinking about suicide is part of being human and anyone, yes anyone has the potential to have thoughts of suicide.

SO if you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone you trust, you absolutely 100% are not on your own. There are so many people out there that want to help and support you. YOU ARE NOT ON YOUR OWN.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to someone you trust about it. If you would prefer to speak to someone you don’t know, then call The Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123.

There is also a fantastic free app you can download called “Stay Alive”, available on Android and Apple. It has:

  • Lots of information about suicide, including advice and tools to help you stay safe, how to find help in an emergency, information about the signs of suicide and how to help, and common misunderstandings about suicide.
  • A ‘Lifebox’ in which you can store photos to remind you of all the important things in your life.
  • A ‘Safety Plan’ in which you can create a plan specific to you, if you should ever feel like you need it.
  • A ‘Contact List’ so you can find your contacts quickly and easily if you are having negative thoughts.
  • A ‘Wellness Plan’ where you can create a bespoke plan full of things that will support your wellness on a day to day basis.

Take care of yourselves and always reach out for help and support. There is no shame in it and there are people wanting to help you 🙂

8 Replies to “Suicide – Myth Buster”

  1. This is brilliant Dave, as there are many ‘myths’ that could easily steer someone is the wrong direction. Sharing your experience must be helping so many people who are suffering out there. You should feel very proud, you are making a real difference. Hope everyone shares. X

  2. I Have Had Mental Health issues since I was about 12 dave. So Glad My Sister Pointed you out to me. Been Reading Your Blogs . I Can Honestly Say I Am Inspired by All Your Doing. I’ve Been Suicidal A Few Times . Now, This Corona Virus Out Break Has Sent My Mind Spiraling Out Of Control Simply numb. Thankyou For All You Are Doing To Help Others

    1. Hi Beanie
      Thanks so much for your kind words and support. Sorry to hear you suffer with your mental health. This Coronavirus is extremely worrying. I’ve posted a blog about this and managing your anxiety, I hope this can give you some support. Thanks again and take care of yourself x

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