Myths Doctors (and Nurses) Still Believe About Suicide


Suicide = depression 
Truth: suicide = pain. Sometimes it takes the shape of a chronic condition like depression or other mental health diagnosis, or other times it’s pain brought on by a sudden life event like being fired from a job, or the end of a serious relationship.

People who tell their healthcare team they have thoughts of suicide aren’t going to act on the thoughts
Truth: Healthcare providers can never know exactly what a patient is feeling or thinking. While it’s good to bring the painful feelings into the light by talking about them, opening up doesn’t mean the risk is over.

Suicide attempts are a cry for attention
Truth: Suicide attempts are sometimes ambivalent- people still want to live enough to keep them from following through with fatal plans. But any attempt is a sign of pain and means the patient needs help.

The suicide attempter was just drunk, so no worries after he sobers up
Truth: Even if drunkenness was a major factor in a suicide attempt, sobriety isn’t the end of the problem. What happens next time he’s drunk?

All people with suicidal thoughts need to be in a locked psychiatric hospital 
Truth: Sometimes normal, healthy people have fleeting thoughts of suicide- for example, after the death of a loved one. Other people experience chronic thoughts of suicide lasting years. Hospitalization may not be of benefit for folks like these.

People with chronic suicidal thoughts don’t get better 
Truth: Suicide is about emotional pain, and the emotional pain can be treated. Mental health professionals work with suicidal patients every day, and they get better.

Posted on September 17, 2018 .