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Myths v Facts on suicide a misunderstood issue that claims 800,000 lives each year

A major new report by the WHO shows that appropriate support for those with suicidal thoughts is essential.

A MAJOR NEW report into suicide prevention released today has revealed that 800,000 people die by suicide each year – highlighting that suicide is an issue that ”all too often fails to be prioritised as a public health problem”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) report showed that suicide is a global phenomenon, varying from country to country due to factors such as socio-economic status – but it is preventable and that appropriate support for those with suicidal thoughts is essential.

As part of the report, WHO targeted some persistent myths about suicide…

Myth: ‘People who talk about suicide do not mean it’


People who talk about suicide may be reaching out for help or support. A significant number of people contemplating suicide are experiencing anxiety, depression and hopelessness and may feel that there is no other option.

Myth: ‘Most suicides happen suddenly without warning’


The majority of suicides have been preceded by warning signs, whether verbal or behavioural. Of course there are some suicides that occur without warning. But it is important to understand what the warning signs are and look out for them.

Myth: ‘Someone who is suicidal is determined to die’


On the contrary, suicidal people are often ambivalent about living or dying. Someone may act impulsively by drinking pesticides, for instance, and die a few days later, even though they would have liked to live on. Access to emotional support at the right time can prevent suicide.

Myth: ‘Once someone is suicidal, he or she 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 previously suicidal thoughts and attempts can go on to live a long life.

Myth: ’Only people with metal disorders are suicidal’


Suicidal behaviour indicates deep unhappiness but not necessarily mental disorder. Many people living with mental disorders are not affected by suicidal behaviour, and not all people not all people who take their own lives have a mental disorder.

Myth: ‘Talking about suicidal is a bad idea and can be interpreted as encouragement’


Given the widespread stigma around suicide, most people who are contemplating suicide do not know who to speak to. Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviour, talking openly can give an individual other options or the time to rethink his/her decision, thereby preventing suicide.


  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: One person takes their own life every 40 seconds – WHO report

Read: ‘It was amazing to be listened to’ – This service helped 2,500 young people last year >

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