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Myths / Realities

Typical Myths / Realities of Suicide Prevention

  • Myth: Asking about suicide will plant the idea in a person’s head.
  • Reality: Asking about suicide does not create suicidal thoughts. The act of asking the question simply gives the veteran permission to talk about his or her thoughts or feelings.
  • Myth: There are talkers and there are doers.
  • Reality: Most people who die by suicide have communicated some intent. Someone who talks about suicide gives the guide and/or clinician an opportunity to intervene before suicidal behaviors occur.
  • Myth: If somebody really wants to die by suicide, there is nothing you can do about it.
  • Reality: Most suicidal ideas are associated with treatable disorders. Helping someone find a safe environment for treatment can save a life. The acute risk for suicide is often time-limited. If you can help the person survive the immediate crisis and overcome the strong intent to die by suicide, you have gone a long way toward promoting a positive outcome.
  • Myth: He/she really wouldn't commit suicide because…
    • he just made plans for a vacation
    • she has young children at home
    • he made a verbal or written promise
    • she knows how dearly her family loves her
  • Reality: The intent to die can override any rational thinking. Someone experiencing suicidal ideation or intent must be taken seriously and referred to a clinical provider who can further evaluate their condition and provide treatment as appropriate.