Suicide’s Many Misconceptions


Bella Trimmer and Stephanie West

Though the general public sees it mentioned frequently in the news, suicide remains a taboo topic of conversation. It’s strange that the majority of the population would like to ignore the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates that 44,193 people commit suicide each year. In Georgia alone, the annual suicide rate is 1,317 deaths per year; in 2015, the CDC estimated that, annually, twice as many people die in Georgia from suicide than homicide. And yet most people avoid the subject like the plague, apparently believing that if we don’t talk about it, it isn’t a problem. However, not talking about suicide only creates misconceptions about suicide, which leads to incredibly negative stigmas. The issue of widespread misinformation needs to be resolved as fast as possible; if you don’t fully understand all aspects of a problem, you can’t hope to fix it.

For one, it is critically important to be able to spot the warning signs of suicidal tendencies. While it is impossible to always tell if someone is contemplating suicide, there are some signs to look out for. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, a few common red flags to look for are as follows: if someone is acting anxious, or agitated, sleeping too much or too little, and/or becoming withdrawn. If they talk about feeling trapped, being in unbearable pain or feeling like a burden to others, those are even more signs of suicidal thoughts or actions.

On rare occasions when suicide is discussed , there are a variety of misconceptions people tend to have about suicidal thoughts and tendencies and the people they directly affect.  According to the California State University Northridge, “Appropriate and effective intervention requires recognizing these myths and knowing the facts.” Take for example, the statement: “People who want to die will find a way no matter what we do so we shouldn’t try to stop them” is generally untrue. In fact, most people who are contemplating suicide are on a fine line between wanting to live and the desire to die, so talking to them may actually help the situation. The myth that “Someone’s problems were not enough to commit suicide over” is not true and should not be repeated, ever. When it comes to suicide and depression, the issue lies not with the problem but how they perceive the issue. Another misconception that people often believe is “If someone makes a threat to commit suicide, then they won’t do it they just want attention.” This belief is downright hurtful and shouldn’t even cross your mind. Typically, when someone threatens suicide you should take them seriously, because a large portion of the people who threaten actually carry out their threats. Furthermore, the thought that, “You shouldn’t talk to someone about suicide, it may give them an idea” is also generally untrue. According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, “People who are thinking about suicide usually find some way of communicating their pain to others – often by speaking indirectly about their intentions. Most suicidal people will admit to their feelings if questioned directly.”

Suicide will always be a difficult subject to talk about, but that by no means is meant to suggest that we shouldn’t have discussions about it. In order to prevent these untimely deaths, we need to be more educated on the tragedies we’re trying to prevent.

If you or a loved one are contemplating suicide, we implore you to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or seek help elsewhere. Though you may not be perfect, you are loved.