Health & Wellness Articles

Preventing Depression-Related Suicide

Separate the Myths from the Facts

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Did you know that each year in the United States, more people die of suicide than of homicide? In 2004, suicide accounted for 32,439 deaths in the U.S., but over 750,000 people actually attempted to take their own lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicide is also the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

About 18 million Americans suffer from depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to prevent a friend or loved one from choosing suicide as a solution to their problems. But first, it's important to dispel some of the myths that get in the way of suicide prevention. Here are some common myths and facts:

Myth #1: A person who talks about committing suicide rarely follows through. He is probably just trying to get attention.

Fact: Actually, two-thirds of people talked about their intentions before committing suicide. Rather than "crying wolf" just to get attention, they are more likely reaching out for help because they are experiencing overwhelming pain. If someone you know has mentioned the desire to die by suicide, take her seriously and act immediately. (See “How to Help” below.)

Myth #2: You shouldn’t even mention the word “suicide” around someone who is depressed or possibly suicidal. They might take this as a suggestion and act on it.

Fact: It is imperative to talk openly about suicide to someone who may be considering it. Talking to him can help you to gauge whether or not he is seriously considering suicide. Talking about suicide may also prompt the person to seek help. Ask him directly whether or not his depression is severe enough that he is considering suicide.  (See “How to Help” below.)

Myth #3: If a person is taking antidepressants, she is not at risk for attempting suicide.

Fact: Sometimes the decrease in depressive symptoms that results from taking antidepressants can actually give the patient more energy to act on the suicidal thoughts. Make sure the person who is taking the antidepressants is aware of this risk, and watch for suicide warning signs. . (See “How to Help” below.)

Myth #4: Most people who commit suicide do so impulsively, without showing any warning signs.

Fact: Most suicidal individuals plan their attempt in advance and give clues that it will happen. Nearly 80 percent of people who commit suicide will exhibit warning signs beforehand. Although you might not always see warning signs when someone is suicidal, any and all warning signs you see should be taken seriously.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have attempted suicide in the past and been hospitalized 5 times for it. I've undergone 30 E.C.T.'s (a.k.a shock therapy). There are three things I would like to mention and wish were in the article: 1) Sometimes the antidepressant itself will cause a person to have suicidal thoughts. This does not only happen in teens and young adults. It happened to me 2 years ago and I am in my forties. Nine months of suicidal urges and no one caught it for 9 months! 2) Don't be afraid of the hospital. It is the safest place to be when one is having these urges. Don't wait for someone else to notice your signs. If you are aware enough of what you are planning, please go to the ER. 3) Depression ALWAYS lifts eventually. There is a lighter day coming. You don't have to die. Love yourself enough to hold on. Love your family enough to hold on. And if you're religious, love God enough to hold on. There will be a day when you can take a full breath and be glad to be alive!!!! HOLD ON!!! We love you! - 7/23/2014 2:59:38 AM
  • I have attempted suicide more than once. The first time I was still in grade school. I have scars because of it. I never take suicide lightly when someone talks about it. I know how it feels to have no one to turn to so I try to be that person. I'm just lucky that I sought out help after realizing what I was really doing. It's a very scary situation. - 2/19/2014 11:55:27 PM
  • The one theme I did notice that was sad to notice was how the people left behind generally seem to blame themselves when goodness knows they did probably everything humanly possible. - 5/12/2012 11:46:30 PM
  • Thanks to GOD I never attempted Suicide, but I have struggled with Depression most of my life. But, GOD has saved my life, & made me find a reason to live. ASK GOD for help he is the ONE & ONLY One that could HELP ME OUT OF MY MISERY. Deb in Oregon. - 4/29/2012 2:15:52 AM
  • In 2004, I attempted suicide. I didn't realize so many others were at the same broke place in their own lives. I just knew I could not make it through another day. However with a lot of intervention I am still here and still struggling along. - 11/1/2011 5:19:05 AM
  • Thanks for this article. It's so vital to know what to do if someone in your life is seriously depressed. - 3/8/2011 6:51:12 PM
  • This article touched a real note in me. I have several family members or friends who have suffered from depression, and one even took his own life. It was 30 years ago, when people thought that talking about suicide was just a ploy to get attention. His family will regret, forever, that they didn't listen. - 2/20/2011 12:54:19 PM
  • This artilce really hit home for me. My dad suffered from depression all his life, but he regused to get help for it. I really wish he did. He took his own life and never got to know his youngest grandson. If only he lived closer or we talked more, I keep playing over and over in my head what I could bave done, but I have to realize that none of this was my fault, he was sick. - 1/12/2011 2:23:39 PM
  • Great article! Anyone (and everyone) can learn more about how to help prevent this most preventable cause of death in our country. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at www.afsp.org for information, advocacy, research and survivor support. Check it out. - 12/14/2010 8:49:50 AM
  • KIKIKINS23
    As a person who has thought seriously about suicide since the age of 16, I can say that this article hits the nail on the head. There are days when I can hardly get out of bed, but I struggle because I know it would destroy my siblings. The sad part is, I have planned my death and still have that plan, written up very neatly, just in case the pain gets too bad. Never ignore the signs. Never try to tell someone that killing themselves will make them go to hell; it doesn't work. If they want to go through with it, they will try. Just be there for them. - 12/3/2010 12:54:58 PM
  • I usually ask anyone in that situation if they have a plan and what is it. If the answer is I don't know then you can relax a bit and steer the conversation to what is making them want to die. I wish I didn't know this. I used to have suicidal thoughts. But I rarely get them now, I started to not pay attention to them but Use them as a reason to ask myself what was bothering me. I'm so glad that is in the past for me. - 5/26/2008 10:31:51 AM
  • MELOMAR
    This article is so true, although another bothersome myth that I heard was "if they were serious they wouldn't try stuff like pills, they would just get a gun so any attempts like that should be ignored". I attempted it numerous while suffering from undiagnosed bipolar and meant it regardless of the means. Ignoring the past attempts as attention seeking based on the method could also be dangerous.
    - 4/17/2008 3:32:51 PM
  • It's interesting reading this from a more "outside" view. I honestly don't remember a day where I haven't thought about death or suicide. I don't mind though because the psychology of it is fascinating to me. I like analyzing myself from various viewpoints. - 3/8/2008 8:23:57 PM
  • Our town Lost a 12 year old yesterday. And school is out today. Please pray for our kids. Educators know that once one child does this others usually follow. - 1/25/2008 12:18:51 PM
  • I lost my brother to suicide 18 months ago. I can't stop thinking about what I could have done differently. The signs were there,.But he convinced me at the time that he was feeling much better,. He was taking medication, was in a new relationship, had plans for the future, had lost weight and had started to excercise again. - 1/16/2008 12:57:12 PM

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