7 myths about suicide that you mustn’t believe, according to psychologists at the Vandrevala Foundation
A suicide loss is a painful experience. In addition to the obvious impact on the community at large, the loss of a life also has repercussions for the deceased’s loved ones. Those left behind by a suicide victim sometimes feel a sense of powerlessness and confusion about what may have led to their loved one’s decision to take their own life.
We tend to ignore the quiet plague of mental health problems and suicides. However, realising that suicide is a preventable cause of death and can be prompted by factors other than mental illness is crucial.
Every year, suicide claims the lives of about 700,000 people worldwide. In addition, for every suicide, there are more than twenty attempts.
The deaths of loved ones, communities, and even entire societies can all be affected by suicide and suicide attempts. It is possible to stop someone from killing themselves. There is a great deal that can be done on personal, local, and national levels to lessen the likelihood of suicide. The first step in this manner would be to dispel certain misunderstandings about suicide so that help can be provided to individuals who need it. When people are educated about suicide, they are better able to understand and empathise with folks who are suicidal and the struggles they face inside.
Myth 1– Talking about suicide is a bad idea as it might trigger suicidal thoughts and perhaps encourage to attempt.
Fact- Given the widespread stigma around suicide, a person with suicidal thoughts often struggles to find a safe space to discuss the thoughts and feelings making them suicidal. Talking openly about suicide validates and supports the person with suicidal thoughts to open up and give them time to rethink.
Myth 2- People who talk about suicide are not serious and won’t go through it.
Fact- Not everyone who expresses suicidal intent is wanting to grab attention. People who die by suicide, have at some point expressed the desire to leave the world, or feel disillusioned with life. While the term ‘suicide’ might not have been used explicitly thoughts synonymous to giving up life, have often been used by many that were missed or brushed aside.
Myth 3- You have to be mentally ill to feel suicidal
Fact- While a lot of mentally ill patients do feel suicidal, it is not a behaviour isolated to the mentally ill alone. 1 in 5 have thought of suicide at least once in their lifetime. Critical life incidents can push one to feel helpless and hopeless and eventually want to give up on life. And in the absence of mental health care many with no prior mental health history, have succumbed to suicide.
Myth 4– People who are suicidal want to die
Fact- The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die they just feel helpless in their current life situations and what their pain to stop. They often reach the decision to die out of hopelessness and often reach out for help.
Myth 5- If a person attempts suicide and survives once, they would not attempt it again
Fact- A suicide attempt is an indicator of further attempts, and the level of intensity and execution goes higher after each attempt. Prior attempts do not deter but bolster confidence in a person who wants to end his/her life.
Myth 6- Suicide is hereditary
Fact- Suicide is a behavior and not a condition. Multiple suicides have been observed in the same family experiencing similar social and emotional environments, however, this is a response to the environments rather than inherited.
Myth 7- People who think of suicide are selfish
Fact- People who want to end their life often see themselves as a burden on others and this is one thought that drives them to take their lives. Labeling them selfish would make it sound like this is a pleasurable activity while the truth is the contrary, many struggle to get through this hopeless phase and feel suicide is the only answer to their issues.
Suicide is often a cry for help, an attempt to control deep, emotional pain. Once these thoughts dissipate, so does the suicidal ideation. While these thoughts keep returning, with the right kind of support and a safe environment, people with suicidal thoughts can be helped to mitigate their issues and learn coping behaviors with a trained expert.
About Vandrevala Foundation
The Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala Foundation has been operating a round-the-clock helpline since 2009. It is manned by psychologists who undergo rigorous training on how to deal with callers who are suicidal or have suicidal ideation. In the past 14 years have answered more than a million calls from all over the country. There are more than 125 trained counselors working 24×7 to help. The unique feature is that the helpline number -9999666555- can be approached through WhatsApp chat or telephonic call. In case a call is missed due to heavy traffic, the counselors will contact the person as soon as they are free.
Working with SHOUT – a UK-based text helpline, the Foundation has developed an advanced curriculum for training counselors, Last year more than 500 counselors were trained free of cost on the nuances of dealing with callers in distress, and more than a thousand psychology students completed their free internships
(This article is contributed by the team of counseling psychologists at Vandrevala Foundation under the guidance of Dr. Arun John, CEO)