Suicide attempts increase during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, right?
Suicide Rates Decrease During The Holidays
It is commonly thought that the stressor that comes along with the holidays actually increase suicide attempts.
That is simply not the case.
Actually, it is believed that the family bonding time, love, and support during this time, that is responsible for the lower incident of suicide attempts.
There were 38,364 suicides in the US in 2010, making it the 12th leading cause of death. More people have died from suicide than automobile accidents.
While many experience fleeting thoughts of suicide, suicide threats often go ignored.
It is a very serious matter and any threats should not be taken lightly.
Suicide is not a sign of weakness and it isn’t about seeking attention or being selfish, yet these myths continue.
Here Are Some Myths Surrounding Suicide:
Myth: If you ask someone about suicidal thoughts, it may trigger them to act out.
Fact: Talking to someone about suicide will not give them the idea. It may be unsettling and you might not know what to do, but actually talking about it will help.
Thoughts of suicide should be discussed if suspected in a family member or friend. Many suicide survivors say if anyone had shown interest or compassion right before the act they would not have done it.
Myth: People who talk about suicide are not typically ones that do it.
Fact: Threatening or talking about suicide is the number one warning sign. Too often we hear after-the-fact that a suicide victim threatened to end his life but it wasn’t taken seriously.
Joking or not, all suicidal threats should be taken seriously.
Myth: Suicide is an impulsive act.
Fact: Suicide is usually planned weeks, months and sometimes even years in advance. During this time, the person almost always shares thoughts of despair, depression or suicide.
Even if it’s in a joking manner. Some suicides can be impulsive, but that is the exception.
Myth: Young people are not at risk to commit suicide. They use it as a threat to get attention.
Fact: Teen suicide is a real threat. Thinking it cannot happen to your teen is a dangerous and deadly way to think. Teen suicides have almost doubled over the last 50 years. teens suicide is a climbing death rate unfortunately far more common.
Myth: There’s nothing you can do if someone wants to commit suicide. Nothing you can say will change their way of thinking.
Fact: No one really wants to die, but when you combine severe depression with hopelessness and helplessness, sometimes suicide can seem like the only way out.
Fortunately, Suicidal Feelings Do Not Last Forever.
Depression is a mental illness that absolutely can be treated; personal problems that create crises within these individuals lives will come and go.
These are issues that absolutely can and should be talked about and worked through in order to take back your life.
When those who are contemplating suicide have someone to talk to and express their true emotions, they often will agree to get help.
Reaching out could quite literally save a life.
More Common Misconceptions About Suicide:
Myth: Suicide victims always leave a note.
Fact: Roughly 25 percent of suicide victims leave a note. They are consumed by isolation and loneliness, and writing a note seems absolutely pointless when they also think no one cares and that others would be better off without them.
Myth: Anyone who is about to attempt suicide has already made up their mind and there is nothing you can do to change it.
Fact: It has been said that more than half of suicidal victims sought help before their death. Seeking help obviously indicates they did not want to die. The reality is they believed in their own mind and hearts that this was the only solution.
Myth: Suicide is selfish.
Fact: Suicide is not a selfish act but rather an act of desperation by someone experiencing unbearable pain who doesn’t know how to make that pain stop. The two most prominent predictors of suicide are clinical depression and substance abuse/dependence. The person isn’t thinking logically or clearly. Recent research indicates there could also be a genetic link.
Myth: If someone really wants to die we should let them.
Fact: Kevin Hines, who jumped off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and lived says in his recent book, Cracked, Not Broken (about those who jumped of the bridge), “Of the survivors, 19 of them have come forward and expressed words to this effect: ‘The second my hands and feet left the rail I realized I had made a mistake, I realized how much I needed to live, or didn’t want to die.’”
Myth: Anyone who attempts or commits suicide is depressed.
Fact: While the majority of suicides are committed by depressed individuals, that is not always the case. Alcohol plays a role in 1 in 3 successful suicides.
What to do if you suspect someone is contemplating suicide?
Talk, talk, talk about it and insist on an immediate appointment with a mental health professional.
Ask direct questions to find out what they’re thinking. Your questions will not push them over the edge, but rather will give them an opportunity to convey how they feel which definitely will reduce the risk of acting out.
If you feel this person is a danger to themselves, do not leave them alone. Call 911 or take him to the nearest ER. Also, be sure to tell a family member or friend.
Another great way to make yourself available to your friends or family during the holidays who do or might struggle with suicidal thoughts is to create a support plan for your loved one.
What would a support plan look like?
Here is an example: (This is for someone who feels suicidal to fill in, so the questions are written from their perspective.)
What can I do to take care of myself?
This could include things like ‘write down how I feel’, ‘cuddle a pet’ or ‘do some exercise like walking or swimming’.
The goal is just to get them to identify things that they can do or use as a coping mechanism to help them with self-care and managing the depression and suicidal thoughts.
How would I like to be supported?
This could include a list of names and numbers of friends, family or professionals you can contact when you need support, people you know that you can trust.
Also, include some details of how you would like to be supported, like ‘ask me how I’m feeling’ or ‘come to appointments with me’.
Providing ways that others can effectively assist you you’re setting yourself up for success in handling things such as suicidal thoughts and depression.
It’s also a good idea to list the details of helplines or peer support groups, which might include online support.
Any type of supportive connections in which can be implemented in treating the depression is beneficial to you.
Who can be contacted in an emergency?
It’s best to agree on what to do in an emergency, with names and numbers for crisis services.
This could include things like ‘call 911 for an ambulance’, ‘contact my Community Mental Health Team’.
It is very important for the person who is dealing with these issues to have involvement when building their support plan.
We want them to get the most effective treatment and support, so including them gives them more o a say in how they will receive help.
As families and friends gather together this holiday season, if you suspect someone of having thoughts of suicide, speak up. It could be the greatest gift you give.