Suicide among young people has doubled in the past decade and The Center for Disease Control reports that one young person every hour and 35 minutes dies by suicide. Teen suicide is a growing problem and there are many myths about teen suicide. These myths are preventing teens from getting the help that they need to live a healthy life. The truth about suicide in teens and children is often misunderstood, resulting in increased stigma about preventable deaths. We’ve collected some of the common myths about teen suicide and the facts below.
If you know a child or teen struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, call our KVC mental health experts at (913) 890-7468 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
MYTH #1: People who talk about suicide really won’t do it.
FACT: In many cases, youth who attempt or complete suicide have given some kind of warning sign through their behavior or something they have said. Discussing suicide can be difficult and is often unsettling and can make people feel uncomfortable. In many cases, the youth may not be taken seriously. These behaviors and comments, no matter if it was said jokingly should be taken seriously and might reflect suicidal feelings.
MYTH #2: Talking about suicide makes people more likely to kill themselves.
FACT: According to the American Association of Suicidology, research shows that talking about suicide with a young person does not cause them to attempt or complete suicide. Talking with youth creates an opportunity to discuss feelings and thoughts that might have otherwise would remain hidden. Most youth who are contemplating suicide are actually honest and relieved when asked direct questions about their suicidal thoughts.
MYTH #3: People who attempt suicide are just trying to get attention.
FACT: No matter the motives a youth shares, expressions and attempts of suicide should be taken seriously. Professional services must be sought for help. It may be a call for help, however a mental health professional can assist not only with treatment but in helping the youth identify other ways of expressing his or her needs.
MYTH #4: Most suicide attempts occur without warning signs.
FACT: Most youth who attempt or complete suicide have previously communicated their feelings or plans with at least one other person. That communication might not always be direct, so it is important to recognize the warning signs and seek help. Learn more about warning signs here.
MYTH #5: Only youth who are depressed attempt suicide.
FACT: Teens and children do not have to be clinically depressed to have feelings of harming themselves or attempting suicide. Depression is the number one cause of suicide, however, any youth that is feeling low or severely sad for a short time period could develop thoughts of harming himself or herself.
MYTH #6: Only a certain type of person kills him or herself.
FACT: Suicide does not discriminate based on gender, race, upbringing, education level, ethnicity or socio-economic factors. While some factors do contribute to a higher risk for suicide and suicide attempts, all people are susceptible to having thoughts and feelings of harming themselves.
MYTH #7: Suicide is not preventable.
FACT: People may think that if someone wants to end their life, nothing can be done to prevent it. In fact that’s untrue, according to David Jobes, the head of Catholic University’s Suicide Prevention Lab. Identification and intervention when someone is talking about suicide make it possible to stop someone from harming himself or herself. Caring individuals can help youth realize that the pain will stop and suicidal feelings do not last forever. Suicide is preventable.
At KVC Hospitals, we can help youth who are experiencing thoughts of suicide and self-harm. In the last year, we’ve helped 3.492 people receive treatment for behavioral and mental issues. While in care, 99% of youth successfully completed treatment.
Learn more about suicide prevention in our related articles.