World Suicide Prevention Day: Dispelling five common myths

SUPPORT EACH OTHER: Suicide is one of the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. Photo: FILE PHOTO
SUPPORT EACH OTHER: Suicide is one of the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. Photo: FILE PHOTO

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) is shining a light on suicide by dispelling common myths.

Every year, suicide is one of the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages.

In rural areas of Australia, suicide rates are on average, 50 per cent higher than in cities.

Key to suicide prevention is raising awareness, encouraging conversations and supporting one another, CRRMH director, Professor David Perkins said.

"World Suicide Prevention Day provides an opportunity for each and every one of us to share our grief about those we have lost to suicide, speak about how we're feeling and also share the responsibility of preventing suicide," Professor Perkins said.

"We all have a part in helping to prevent suicide and this includes helping to dispel common myths and misinformation that can increase stigma, shame and guilt experienced by people who are thinking about or have attempted take their own life."

"Dispelling a common myth that there is nothing that can protect someone from suicide is critical. While suicidal behaviour is complex, we know suicide is not inevitable and may be prevented," Professor Perkins said.

Five common myths about suicide:

1. People who talk about suicide only want attention

Almost a third of Australians think people who talk about suicide will rarely kill themselves, a 2017 national survey by Colmar Brunton found. However, many people will communicate their suicidality directly or indirectly to a health professional in the three months prior to their death, evidence from Suicide Prevention Australia showed.

Talking about suicide is a warning sign and should be taken seriously.

2. There is nothing that can protect someone from suicide

Suicidal behaviour is complex but there are known protective factors including:

- Employment and financial security.

- Social support and connectedness in stable relationships.

- Access and availability to effective mental health care.

- Plans for future and strong reasons for living.

- Certain life skills such as problem solving and resilience.

- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide.

3. Talking about suicide increases the risk of suicide

Almost 20 per cent of Australians believed talking about suicide increased the risk of suicide, a 2017 national survey by Colmar Brunton found. However, openly discussing the topic of suicide can open the door for someone to get help, according to Suicide Prevention Australia.

4. Only people with a mental illness are suicidal

People living with a mental illness are at increased risk of suicide but suicidal ideation and behaviour can happen to anyone. Many people living with a mental illness are not affected by suicidal behaviour and not all people who take their life have a mental illness.

5. Once someone is suicidal they will always remain suicidal

Heightened suicide risk is often short-term and situation-specific. While suicidal thoughts may return they are not permanent and an individual with previous suicidal ideation can go on to live a long life.

Need help?

  • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
  • Mental Health Help Line: 1800 011 511
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 476