Delaware experienced a rash of suicides of young people last year, particularly in Kent and Sussex counties. The Centers for Disease Control conducted a study which found that for these young people, some significant issues were recent mental health problems, conflict with parents, legal issues, boyfriend or girlfriend problems, substance use, academic troubles, peer problems, or being part of a sexual minority.
Although suicide remains the decision of the individual, perhaps ways exist to make ourselves more comfortable helping those who might be suffering and leaning in this direction. Myths abound regarding suicidal people, when facts would be much more useful. Here are a few:
Myth: People who talk about suicide are just trying to get attention or manipulate others.
Fact: People who die by suicide usually talk about it first. They are in pain and oftentimes reach out for help because they have lost hope. Always take it seriously when someone talks about suicide.
Myth: Suicide always occurs without any warning signs.
Fact: There are almost always warning signs. Sometimes people give away possessions, wrap up affairs, leave notes. They may have mentioned it to a doctor, a hairdresser, or a friend.
Myth: People who attempt suicide are crazy.
Fact: No, he or she is in pain (although there may be a chemical imbalance in his or her brain). Any person could attempt suicide.
Myth: Cutting is a suicidal gesture.
Fact: Usually, self-mutilation is not intended as a suicide attempt, but is indicative of other motives.
Myth: People who attempt suicide are weak.
Fact: No, they are in pain. Many people who are very “strong” die by suicide.
Myth: You should never ask people if they are thinking about suicide or if if they have thought of a method, because talking about it will give them the idea.
Fact: Asking people if they are thinking of suicide does not create the idea for suicide. It is important to talk about it, to learn the person’s mindset and intentions. On the contrary, it allows the person to diffuse some of the tension that might cause suicidal feelings.
If you or someone you know feels suicidal, please know that there are people that care about you. If you feel you are in danger of harming yourself, call 911 or take yourself or the person to an emergency room. We at PCPC would love to be a part of your healing once you are not in immediate crisis.