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They are better off with you: Breaking down false beliefs about suicide
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, the suicide rate increased by 35% between 1999 and 2018. The rate at which suicide has increased indicates how serious of a public health crisis it is and how we must all do our part to help prevent it.
The reasons for the growing suicide rate are diverse and complex. We do know that suicidal thoughts go against our natural self-preservation instincts, but the reasons for such thinking are vast and not always known. One common cause is that people are struggling with some of the false beliefs listed below. We have talked with our experts to debunk these false beliefs and included guidance to help those who may be struggling or know someone else who is.
Common false beliefs related to suicide
FALSE BELIEF: People in my life would be better off without me. A common feeling for people experiencing suicidal thoughts is that they are a burden to others. One may start to believe that others in their life would be better off without them.
TRUTH: You are not a burden to those who care about you. Your life matters and you have value. No matter how bad you feel, you can contribute good things to those around you.
FALSE BELIEF: No one cares about me/I am all alone. Suicidal thoughts may come as a result of feeling a lack of belonging. Everyone has physical, emotional, and social needs, but when these needs are not met, it can sometimes make people feeling isolated. This can potentially lead to mental health issues and/or suicidal thoughts.
TRUTH: There are people all around you who care. If you were gone tomorrow, people would feel your absence and grieve your loss. You have more impact in others’ lives than you know.
FALSE BELIEF: This is the only way to end my emotional pain. Often times, people who experience suicidal thoughts do not want to die but instead want to get rid of their emotional pain. They often feel that to relieve their pain, there is no other option.
TRUTH: There are other ways to ease and eventually end your emotional pain. You can enter into communities with others who support you, talk to close friends or family about your emotional pain or see a counselor who is trained to help you through it all.
Steps to take toward healing
For those who know someone struggling:
If you have a loved one who you think or know is having suicidal thoughts, there are ways you can help.
- Educate yourself on mental health and suicide so you know what signs to look for.
- Listen to your loved one and make it abundantly clear that you support them.
- Help them find professional help and encourage them throughout the process.
- If your loved one has attempted suicide, do not shame them.
For those struggling:
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are also things you can do to help yourself.
- When dark thoughts based on false beliefs enter your mind, reflect on what is true: Your life matters and resources are available to help you.
- Try to build and maintain a support system made up of people you can be open with.
- When you are feeling well enough, prepare for the times when you might not.. Plan for what you can do when you are feeling suicidal. This might be using apps, games, music, videos, and/or photos on your phone. You can also identify people in your life that you can turn to when experiencing a suicidal crisis.
If you know someone who is thinking about suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to remove any means that you think may be used in a suicide attempt and contact Centerstone’s 24-hour crisis lines at:
- Florida – (941) 782-4617
- Illinois – (855) 608-3560
- Indiana – (800) 832-5442
- Tennessee – (800) 681-7444
- Military Services – (866) 781-8010
When someone loses hope, they cannot see a way out, but hope can be found with help and support. For more resources, visit centerstone.org/suicide.