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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong

Misconceptions of Suicide

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

**Trigger Warning: Suicide** Please do not read if you are triggered by this topic.


In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention Week, we will be exploring the topic of suicide. There is still much taboo and stigma associated with suicide. It is scary for everyone involved, including the person thinking about suicide and their loved ones. If life was easy, suicide might not exist. In reality, life is hard; life sometimes knock us down so much, we start to lose hope.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you have thoughts of suicide. Your brain is working overtime to protect you from the suffering you are feeling. No one likes to suffer. Most people do not think of suicide as a first choice... it is usually their last choice after trying very hard to live. It is especially difficult when you have these thoughts and underlying struggles, such as depression, grief, and sudden life change(s), etc. Moreover, there are usually life stressor(s) combined with loss, which can contribute to an increase in suicidal thoughts.


Common Misconceptions of Suicide

  • Talking about suicide will increase the likelihood of suicide

    • Incorrect. Having the safe space to speak with someone about thoughts of suicide can be validating

    • This can improve the person's mental health and decrease the likelihood of suicide

  • People, who tend to talk about suicide, are attention-seeking

    • This is untrue. If the person is sharing their thoughts of suicide, they are likely struggling and asking for support/help

    • It can be helpful to reframe from 'attention-seeking' to 'connection-seeking'

  • People, who suicide, are selfish or weak

    • It is actually the opposite. People who suicide often see themselves as a burden to their loved ones and/or want to end their suffering after having tried so hard to live

  • Suicide cannot be prevented

    • Suicide can be prevented. Suicide is usually the combination of everything going on, such as life stressors, genetics, and/or various health conditions, so addressing those in treatment can decrease suicidal thoughts

    • People often have these thoughts when they are overwhelmed or stressed as a way of coping with life

  • People, who attempt suicide, have a mental health condition

    • There are several factors that can contribute to an increase of suicidal thoughts

    • Usually, there is a lot of life stressors impacting the person (e.g., job loss, recent death of a loved one, significant life transition)

  • Improved mood means the person no longer has thoughts of suicide

    • Incorrect. In fact, this can be a sign something is going on with the person especially if there is a drastic shift in mood

    • Other signs can include withdrawal from others, giving things away, loss of interest in life, impulsive/reckless behaviors, and/or self-harm, to name a few

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please know you are not alone. You are worthy because you exist. Take it one step at a time. It takes a lot of courage to move forward and struggle through life when it has treated you unkindly. It can be tiring and even exhausting. It is difficult to see any light when all you see is darkness. While it seems like things will never get better, it can.


If you make this permanent decision, you will be missed, and life will never be the same without you. Please seek professional mental health help before making any life-changing decisions. It may be scary to reach out for help, but you are worth it.


Below are resources, including crisis numbers to call. If you feel like you are actively in crisis and can't keep yourself safe, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.


Resources for Suicide Prevention:

Resources for Survivors of Suicide Loss:

Quotes:

"No matter how much you hate change, you can be grateful for it… Change is a constant that guarantees our shittiest, darkest, times cannot stay that way." - Renee Yohe (inspired To Write Love On Her Arms)


"Struggling doesn't mean you are failing, it means you are fighting, and there is something wonderful about that." - Renee Yohe


"Today I choose to feel the pain of sitting through a feeling, the terror in realizing that I am powerless over so many things, and the joy in knowing that I do not experience these things alone. I fight my feet when they beg me to run and battle my mind in its attempts to protect me from remembering the things I worked so hard to forget. Today is a constant war for healing. It is filled with promise and potential." - Renee Yohe


"I will allow space for all the feelings my heart holds. I will not cower or hide from myself. It's okay to feel the ugly messy things. It's okay to feel the burning brilliance of beauty. It's okay to feel the soft winds of happiness and the quiet bursts of loneliness. It's okay to feel it all. It's okay to be myself, all of myself, not just the good." - Unknown


Stay tuned. The next topic is "Incredible Women and Burnout."


Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.

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