Suicide: Resources, How to help, What you can do

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “People Who Attempt Suicide Are Selfish”

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Commonly, when people attempt or die by suicide, we think about the affect it has on the people around them. The thing is that suicide is seldom about loved ones. It’s usually about being in such a painful space that you can’t begin to protect yourself, let alone others. In my case, I felt so overwhelmed with hurt and confusion that I felt like suicide was the only way out. I wasn’t able to take care of the needs of my loved ones. I wasn’t even able to take care of my own needs – hence the suicide attempt. In fact, I’d argue that it’s selfish to make someone else’s suicidality about yourself. It demonstrates a real lack of empathy and compassion. We should be allowed to put ourselves first when it comes to things like our mental health. But we shouldn’t conflate putting ourselves first with selfishness. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “People Who Attempt Suicide Are Cowardly”

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There’s this notion that suicide is a “coward’s way out.” It’s presumptuous to assume that suicidal people are cowardly. The assumption there is that whatever they’re going through will be cured with bravery. This downplays the pain they experience. This is not just disrespectful – it also erases the core issue which needs to be addressed. Suicidality is not caused by a lack of bravery. It is caused by a number of factors, most of which link to issues around access to healthcare and other resources, prejudice, and oppression. Suicide is sometimes labeled as cowardly in order to deter some people from trying to end their life, but this just makes them feel guilty. Manipulating people into avoiding suicide by making them feel bad about themselves is never, ever a good idea. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “People Who Attempt Suicide Are Seeking Attention”

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Often, suicide attempts are brushed off as seeking attention. They’re often not seen as genuine efforts to end one’s life, but as a tactic to manipulate people into paying them attention. This is incredibly invalidating, and also incredibly untrue. By reducing someone’s suicide attempt to attention seeking, we’re erasing the fact that they want to – or wanted to – end their life. This completely misses the point of a suicide attempt. Some of us are seeking the opposite of attention – some of us need an escape and want everything to stop, and we can’t think of another way to find that escape other than through death. Suicide should not be equated with seeking attention. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “People Who Have Died by Suicide Haven’t Reached Out for Help”

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Firstly, it’s incredibly difficult to reach out for help because of the fact that suicide is seen as selfish, cowardly and attention seeking. When we discuss whether or not someone reaches out for help, we need to place emphasis on asking whether they’re able to ask for help. Secondly, reaching out for help is not the same thing as receiving it. I can’t tell you how many times I mentioned my suicidal thoughts to friends and family only to receive a half-hearted “sorry” without any further support, check-ins, or conversation. Many people seek help and support and don’t find it. Lastly, finding help does not cure mental illness. Therapy doesn’t cure mental illness. Medication doesn’t cure mental illness. Support from loved ones doesn’t cure mental illness. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “All Suicidal People Have Access to Help”

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Many people, particularly those who aren’t mentally ill, are under the impression that there is equality in the healthcare system. This is to say that they assume support, therapy and medical treatment is available for everyone who needs it. Some people simply don’t have access to help. Financial barriers and location barriers (being in a rural community) prevent a lot of people from accessing support groups, therapy and medication. The healthcare system is often incredibly unfriendly towards transgender and queer people, too. These issues are a result of societal oppressions within in the healthcare system. In order to support suicide survivors and prevent suicide, it is imperative that we challenge inequality in the healthcare system. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

6 Harmful Myths About Suicide We Need to Unlearn: “Reaching Out for Help Is the Same Thing as Threatening Suicide”

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In a lot of the work that I do, I come across the notion that people who are asking for help are threatening suicide. This implies that they’re not really suicidal, but rather that they’re manipulating people by saying they will commit suicide. But conflating all calls for help with “threatening” suicide is incredibly harmful. It makes it seem like the issue at hand is not their suicidality, but their manipulative ways. This mentality also deters suicidal people from seeking help, because we don’t want to seem like we’re trying to hurt those around us. Our default reaction to suicidal people should not be to assume they’re being manipulative. We should provide them with the tools, support and resources they need in order to get to a space where they feel validated and loved. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

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4 Things We Should Stop Saying to Suicidal People (And What to Try Instead): “Suicide is a coward’s way out.”

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This is a common sentiment around suicide. To prevent people from committing suicide, we often shame them by saying it’s cowardly. Labeling suicide as cowardly is really unhelpful because we make suicidal people feel ashamed of their thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t discourage people from attempting suicide – it discourages them from seeking help. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

4 Things We Should Stop Saying to Suicidal People (And What to Try Instead): “You’re just being manipulative.”

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When we assume people who are suicidal are being manipulative or seeking attention, we imply that we don’t think their pain is real. We’re invalidating their pain. We’re implying that the tragic thing is not that somebody wants to die, but that they’re telling someone about those feelings. Ultimately, this discourages suicidal people from looking for help because it makes us feel like nobody truly wants to help us. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

4 Things We Should Stop Saying to Suicidal People (And What to Try Instead): “What about the people you’ll leave behind?”

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Making suicidal people feel guilty really isn’t a good move. Think about it: We’re feeling so utterly low already, and we don’t need guilt added to that. It’s important not to make someone’s suicidality about yourself or others. Try saying this: “There are a great number of people who want to support you, even though it doesn’t feel like that right now. “ This way, you can remind them of their support network without heaping on the guilt – a tactless and manipulative move. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

4 Things We Should Stop Saying to Suicidal People (And What to Try Instead): “You should just be positive.”

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When you’re in a great deal of pain, “thinking positively” is seldom ever that simple. Chances are, the suicidal person has already tried to “look on the bright side” and struggled to find something truly worth living for. Negativity isn’t the cause of mental illness. Negativity is a result of having mental illnesses. Telling suicidal people to “be positive” is as effective as telling a car with an empty gas tank to “just drive.” Rather than telling suicidal people to be positive, we can remind them of positive things – of beauty, of happiness, of support – without demonizing or invalidating their negative feelings. (By Sian Ferguson via Everyday Feminism.)

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RESOURCES

Trevor Support Center (LGBTQ+ Friendly)
Crisis Center Hotlines
The National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255
The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ youth: 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

Have a suicidal loved one and not sure what to do? Read this guide from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or, if you need immediate assistance, give them a call at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).