Myths and Facts

Myth  Fact 
Suicide notes are always left at time of suicide.
Notes are rarely left by someone who dies by suicide. The percentage of those who leave notes varies from 12% to 15% (1988). It is a troubling myth because many believe a note must be present to deem a death a suicide. This can be especially important to those bereaved by a suicide. If a death is not accepted as a suicide, the grieving process can only become more difficult and closure may become more elusive.
People who talk about suicide should not be taken seriously.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has suicidal talk as a major warning signs for suicidal risk. This myth suggests that those who talk about suicide are just trying to get attention. Suicidal behaviour should always be taken seriously.
Talking to people about suicide will influence suicidal behaviour.
On the contrary, talking about suicide with someone who may be suicidal reduces the risk that they may attempt. They should be asked directly if they are having suicidal thoughts or have a plan in place. It has been shown that when someone at risk is given the opportunity to talk, their threat to carry through with suicide diminishes (Suicide Resource Group, 1999).
Once someone has attempted suicide, they will not attempt again.
People who have attempted in the past are the most at-risk for future attempts. The chief predictor of a future suicide is a past attempt. The rate of suicide is 40 times higher for those who have attempted already.
The suicide rate is highest around Christmas/holidays.
This is not true. In fact, though the rate is fairly constant throughout the year, it rises slightly after the holidays in January and peaks in early spring.
Depression is always the cause of suicide.
Two of every three people who commit suicide are depressed at the time they take their life. However, alcoholism plays a role in 1 in 3 completed suicides. Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide, with about 20 times the risk found in the general population.
Most suicide attempts are successful.
Fortunately, only 1 in every 10 to 25 attempts actually results in death, which speaks to the importance of trying to remove access to the means.
Suicide only strikes people of a certain gender, race, financial status, age, etc.
Suicide can strike anyone.
Adapted from the Suicide Prevention Primer: Myths and Facts