Briefly

26 myths about suicide

26 myths about suicide

Myths are culturally accepted and enthroned criteria in the population that do not reflect scientific truth because they are erroneous value judgments regarding suicide, to the suicides and those who attempt suicide, which must be eliminated if you want to collaborate with this type of people. With each myth they try to justify certain attitudes of those who support them, which become a brake for the prevention of this cause of death.

There are many myths regarding suicide, suicides and those who try, let us state some of them, not all, of course.

Scientific criteria to be able to make your help in preventing suicide effective

1. Myth: The one who wants to kill does not say so.

This is a wrong criterion because it leads to not paying attention to people who manifest their suicidal ideas or threaten to commit suicide.

Reality: Of every ten people who commit suicide, nine of them clearly stated their purposes and the other showed their intentions to end their life.

2. Myth: Whoever says it does not.

Wrong criteria as it leads to minimizing suicidal threats which can be mistakenly considered as blackmail, manipulation, bragging, etc.

Reality: Everyone who commits suicide expressed with words, threats, gestures or behavior changes what would happen.

3. Myth: Those who attempt suicide do not want to die, they just flaunt it.

Wrong criterion because it determines an attitude of rejection to those who try against their life, which hinders the help that these individuals need.

Reality: Although not everyone who attempts suicide wishes to die, it is a mistake to label them as alarming, since they are people whose failed mechanisms of adaptation have failed and find no alternatives, except trying against their lives.

4. Myth: If he really wanted to kill himself, he would have thrown himself in front of a train.

Wrong criterion that reflects the aggressiveness that these individuals generate in those who are not trained to address them.

Reality: Every suicide is in an ambivalent situation, that is, with a desire to die and live. The method chosen for suicide does not reflect the wishes of the person who uses it to die, and providing another one with a higher lethality is classified as a crime of help to the suicide (help him to commit it), penalized in the current Penal Code.

5. Myth: The subject who is recovering from a suicide crisis is not in danger of relapse.

Wrong criterion that leads to decrease the measures of strict observation of the subject and the systematized evolution of the risk of suicide.

Reality: Almost half of those who went through a suicide crisis and consummated suicide, carried it out during the first three months after the emotional crisis, when everyone believed that the danger had passed. It happens that when the person improves, their movements become more agile, they are in a position to take the suicidal ideas that still persist, and before, due to the inactivity and inability of agile movements, they could not do so.

6. Myth: Everyone who attempts suicide will be in that danger all his life.

Wrong criterion that attempts to justify overprotection towards the individual in some cases and stigma or rejection for fear of recurrence.

Reality: Between 1% and 2% of those who attempt suicide do so during the first year after the attempt and between 10 and 20% will consume it for the rest of their lives. A suicide crisis lasts for hours, days, rarely weeks, so it is important to recognize it for prevention.

7. Myth: Everyone who commits suicide is depressed.

Wrong criterion that tends to make suicide and depression synonymous, which does not conform to strict evidence.

Reality: Although every depressed person has the possibility of making a suicide attempt or a suicide, not everyone who does has this mismatch. They may suffer from schizophrenia, alcoholism, character disorders, etc.

8. Myth: Everyone who commits suicide is a mentally ill person.

Wrong criterion that attempts to make suicide and mental illness synonymous.

Reality: Mentally ill people commit suicide more often than the general population, but there is not necessarily a mental disorder to do so. But there is no doubt that every suicide is a person who suffers.

9. Myth: Suicide is inherited.

Wrong criteria that tend to therapeutic nihilism, because it is mistakenly believed that what is determined by inheritance is impossible to modify.

Reality: It is not proven that suicide is inherited, although several members of the same family who have ended their lives by suicide can be found. In these cases, the inheritance is the predisposition to suffer from a certain mental illness in which suicide is a main symptom, such as affective disorders and schizophrenia.

10. Myth: Suicide cannot be prevented as it occurs on impulse.

Wrong criterion that limits preventive actions because if it occurs in this way it is impossible to predict and therefore prevent it. Invites therapeutic inertia.

Reality: Every person before committing suicide shows a series of symptoms that have been defined as Presuicidal Syndrome, consisting of constriction of feelings and intellect, inhibition of aggressiveness, which is no longer directed towards other people reserving it for themselves, and the existence of suicidal fantasies, everything that can be detected in due course and avoid carrying out its purposes.

11. Myth: When discussing suicide with a person at this risk, you may be encouraged to do so.

Wrong criterion that instills fear to address the issue of suicide in those who are at risk of committing it.

Reality: It is shown that talking about suicide with a person at such risk instead of inciting, provoking or introducing that idea into their head, reduces the danger of committing it and may be the only possibility offered by the subject for the analysis of their self-destructive purposes .

12. Myth: Approaching a person in suicidal crisis without proper preparation for it, only through common sense, is harmful and time is wasted for proper approach.

Wrong criterion that tries to limit the participation of volunteers in suicide prevention.

Reality: If common sense makes us assume a patient posture and attentive listening, with real desires to help the subject in crisis to find solutions other than suicide, prevention will have begun.

13. Myth: Only psychiatrists can prevent suicide.

Wrong criterion that aims to constitute the prevention of suicide in a fief of psychiatrists.

Reality: It is true that psychiatrists are experienced professionals in the detection of suicide risk and its management, but they are not the only ones who can prevent it. Anyone interested in helping these types of people can be a valuable contributor to their prevention.

14. Myth. Those who attempt suicide and those who commit suicide are dangerous individuals, for just as they try against themselves they can try against others.

Wrong criteria that tend to generate fear of confrontation with these types of individuals.

Reality: Homicide is an act that is generally not accompanied by suicide in those who perform it, because it is generally the case of a heteroaggressive act. Suicide is usually a self-injurious act, in which the subject's destructive impulses pours them against himself, even suicide was considered the homicide of himself.

There are occasions when the suicide, before dying, kills others who do not wish to die, such as in the so-called extended suicide in depressions with psychotic symptoms and in passionate dramas in which the homicide-suicide presents a mental disorder usually of the depressive spectrum .

15. Myth: The issue of suicide should be treated with caution due to the socio-political problems it causes.

Wrong criterion that limits the investigation, approach and prevention of this cause of preventable death and that denotes a prejudiced ignorance of the subject by those who use it.

Reality: The issue of suicide should be treated in the same way as other causes of death, avoiding sensational news and those that cause the imitation of that behavior. On the other hand, suicide is a way of dying that is observed in countries of different socioeconomic regimes, from the highly developed to those who barely have resources, because it responds to diverse factors, such as biological, psychological, social, psychiatric, existential , etc.

16. Myth: A person who is going to commit suicide does not emit signs of what he is going to do

Wrong criterion that seeks to ignore the prodromal manifestations of suicide.

Reality: Everyone who commits suicide expressed with words, threats, gestures or behavior changes what would happen.

17. Myth: The suicide bomber wants to die

Wrong criterion that aims to justify the death by suicide of those who commit it and therefore sooner or later will carry it out.

Reality.- The suicide is ambivalent, that is, he wants to die if his life continues in the same way and he wants to live if there were small changes in it. If this ambivalence is diagnosed in a timely manner, the balance can be tilted towards the option of life.

18. Myth: The one who attempts suicide is a coward

Wrong criterion that aims to prevent suicide by equating it with a negative personality quality.

Reality: Those who attempt suicide are not cowards but people who suffer.

19. Myth: The one who attempts suicide is a brave

Wrong criterion that aims to equate suicide with a positive quality of personality which hinders its prevention because it justifies it by making it synonymous with an imitable attribute and that everyone wants to possess as is the value.

Reality: Those who attempt suicide are not brave or cowardly, because courage and cowardice are attributes of personality that are not quantified or measured according to the number of times you take your life or respect it.

20. Myth: Only the poor commit suicide

Wrong criterion that aims to make suicide an attribute of this social class, without considering that it is a democratic cause of death.

Reality: The poor can also commit suicide although they are more likely to die of infectious diseases due to their poverty conditions

21. Myth: Only the rich commit suicide

Wrong criterion that ignores the possibility that suicide occurs among the poorest layers of society.

Reality: Suicide is a cause of death that is observed more frequently among the inhabitants of developed countries than in underdeveloped countries, but evidently the rich are not the only ones who commit suicide.

22. Myth: Only the old ones commit suicide

Wrong criterion that aims to evade suicide as a cause of death in the early ages of life, such as children and adolescents.

Reality: The elderly make fewer attempts at self-destruction than the young and use deadly methods when trying, which leads to suicide more frequently.

23. Myth: Children do not kill themselves

Wrong criterion that tries to deny the sad reality of child suicide.

Reality: After a child acquires the concept of death he can commit suicide and in fact this act occurs at these ages.

24. Myth: If a suicide is challenged, he does not do it.

Wrong criterion that tries to test forces with the subject in suicide crisis, ignoring the danger that their vulnerability means.

Reality: Challenging suicide is an irresponsible act because it is in front of a vulnerable person in crisis situations whose adaptation mechanisms have failed, precisely the desire to self-destruct.

25. Myth: When a severe depression improves there is no risk of suicide

Wrong criterion that has cost not a few lives, because it does not know that in the depressed suicides the motor component improves first than the ideological component.

Reality: Almost half of those who went through a suicide crisis and consummated suicide, carried it out during the first three months after the emotional crisis, when everyone believed that the danger had passed. It happens that when the person improves, their movements become more agile, they are in a position to take the suicidal ideas that still persist, and before, due to the inactivity and inability of agile movements, they could not do so.

26. Myth: The media cannot contribute to suicide prevention.

Wrong criterion that aims to continue broadcasting sensational news with the primary objective of selling, regardless of the consequences of the message issued.

Reality: The media can become a valuable ally in suicide prevention if they focus on the news on the subject correctly and follow the following suggestions of suicide bombers on how to spread them.

Warning signs of a suicide crisis

Among these warning signs are the following: inconsolable crying, tendency to isolation, suicidal threats, desire to die, hopelessness, sudden changes in behavior, affections and habits, isolation, unusual behaviors, excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs, making notes of goodbyes, etc.

The suicide risk groups are as follows

  • Depressed people
  • People who have suicidal thoughts or threaten suicide
  • People who have previously attempted suicide
  • People in crisis situations
  • Survivors or relatives of the suicide bomber

Simple measures to know what to do in case of detecting a person at risk of suicide:

  • Always ask the person at risk of suicide if they have thought about suicide.
  • If the answer is yes, avoid access to any method that could damage it.
  • Never leave it alone while suicidal thoughts persist.
  • Notify other significant persons for the subject to help prevent the occurrence of a suicidal act.
  • Bring it closer to health sources to receive specialized care.

Conclusions

The myths about the suicide, the suicide and those who attempt suicide, constitute obstacles to the prevention of such behavior so it is necessary that they be disclosed and together with them the scientific criteria so that the population has more resources to face the individuals at risk.

Author.- Prof. Dr. Sergio A. Pérez Barrero
President of the Suicidiology Section of the Cuban Society of Psychiatry.
Founder of the Suicidiology Section of the World Psychiatric Association

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