5 myths about suicidal people

There are several myths that are conveyed about suicidal people, which unfortunately contributes to the prejudice and stigma that surrounds them. In order for these people to feel better understood and to be more comfortable asking for or receiving help, it is important to undo these preconceived ideas. So here are 5 myths about suicidal people that are best revisited to find out what the reality is. 


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Myth #1 : people who are considering suicide have decided to die

Reality : those who consider suicide do not want to die


A person with suicidal thoughts wants to stop suffering, not stop living. In fact, this person is ambivalent; meaning they are torn between their desire to keep living and their desire to end their suffering. That feeling of ambivalence is what allows those considering suicide to stay alive and accept or ask for help, sometimes even when they are at the point of acting on their thoughts because a part of them still wants to live.
This is why access to help and psychological support is so important to people who think about suicide. It can prevent deaths by suicide. There are many ways to help someone in distress regain hope.

Myth #2 : a person considering suicide is cowardly or brave

Reality : suicide is not a question of cowardice or bravery

When we think of people as brave or cowardly in taking their own lives, we are implying we think suicide is a rational choice. However, a person does not take their own life by choice, but because they are under the impression they have no other way out of their difficulties and they have lost hope that the situation will change or improve.

With help, it’s possible for these people to regain hope. Contacting Resources allows them to talk about their problems with someone who is not impacted by them. It also allows them to distance themselves from their situation, reconnect with their strengths and reasons to live, as well as find helpful coping strategies.

Myth #3 : people considering suicide always seem depressed

Reality : people considering suicide do not necessarily seem depressed


Even though it is true that many people who think about suicide are depressed, they do not necessarily look sad or depressed. Some people will hide how they feel by being insensitive or acting strong. They might even seem cheerful and energetic. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to signs of distress. Behind these behaviours may hide suffering and suicidal thoughts.

Myth #4 : all people who consider suicide have a mental health disorder

Reality : suicidal thoughts are not always related to a mental health condition


Thoughts of suicide can affect anyone, regardless of whether they suffer from a mental health disorder or not. That said, having a mental health condition is one of the risk factors associated with suicide. In other words, someone who has a mental health disorder is more likely to have suicidal thoughts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in higher-income countries, nearly 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition (i.e. : depression, substance abuse disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc.) but, it is important to note:

  • Suicide is a complex problem and, generally, many factors combined will lead to someone developing suicidal thoughts or taking their own life.
  • Most people who suffer from mental health disorders do not develop suicidal behaviour.

Myth #5 : people who talk about dying by suicide are just attention-seeking

Reality : People who talk about suicide should always be taken seriously


Even if we might think they are only threats, statements about suicide are a cry for help in response to a difficult situation. Even if they are repeated often, they are still worrisome. The danger in a person talking about suicide often is that their support network becomes desensitized. In other words, the people around them may end up not taking the person considering suicide seriously. It’s important to remain vigilant because if the person continues to cry for help, then they must still be struggling with the situation they are in. Their despair is likely to grow if the situation remains the same, which can lead them to behave more and more dangerously.

Other myths to deconstruct

Read 5 myths to deconstruct to better help a person considering suicide to learn more about what myths exist about suicide and to better understand.