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Onondaga County Suicide Prevention Coalition

The Onondaga County Suicide Prevention Coalition (OCSPC) is a collaboration of stakeholders devoted to creating a suicide safer community.

Debunking Suicide Myths

Fact: Talking about suicide may reduce, rather than increase, suicidal ideation. It improves mental health-related outcomes and the likelihood that the person would seek treatment. Opening this conversation helps people find an alternative view of their existing circumstances. If someone is in crisis or depressed, asking if he or she is thinking about suicide can help, so don’t hesitate to start the conversation.

Fact: People who die from suicide have often told someone about not wanting to live anymore or they do not see the future. It’s always important to take seriously anybody who talks about feeling suicidal. It’s important to be kind and sensitive, and ask direct questions such as: “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” “Are you thinking about suicide?” or “Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?”

Fact: People do not die of suicide by choice. Often, people who die of suicide experience significant emotional pain and find it difficult to consider different views or see a way out of their situation. Even though the reasons behind suicide are quite complex, frequently suicide is associated with psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and substance use.

Fact: The suicide rate for this age group is below the national average, and suicide risk increases with age. The age group with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is men and women between 45 and 64. Though particular groups may be at higher risk, suicide is a problem among all ages and groups.

Fact: Limiting access to lethal means, such as firearms, is one of the simplest strategies to decrease the chances of suicide. Many suicide attempts are a result of impulsive decisions. Therefore, separating someone from a lethal means could provide a person some time to think before doing harm to themselves.

Fact: There are almost always warning signs before a suicide attempt.

Fact: Treatment can and does work. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by getting treatment for mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar illness or substance abuse, and learning ways to cope with problems. Finding the best treatment can take some time, and the right treatment can greatly reduce the risk of suicide.

Fact: Suicide is preventable but unpredictable. Most people who contemplate suicide, often experience intense emotional pain, hopelessness and have a negative view of life or their futures. Suicide is a product of genes, mental health illnesses and environmental risk factors. Interventions targeted to treat psychiatric and substance use illnesses could save lives.

How can you help someone who is struggling?

Ask them

Ask the at-risk person if they are having thoughts of suicide. Acknowledging and talking about suicide reduces rather than increases suicidal thoughts.

Keep them safe

Determine if the at-risk person has suicide intent with a specific plan. Removing, disabling, or restricting the lethal means (ie. firearms, medications) can make a difference.

Help them connect
Help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
Stay connected
Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown that suicide risk decreases when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
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