According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds.
In Kenya, suicide rates have steadily risen over the years, with more cases adding to the numbers daily. Due to the worrying rise worldwide, World Suicide Prevention Day is being commemorated today to bring awareness to these issues. The notion of suicide has always been shrouded in mystery, often seen as a taboo topic in the African setting. However, to address the rise in suicide, one must look at the misconceptions about suicide. Here are 5 key misconceptions about suicide sourced from SAVE that could help you save a life.
Misconception 1: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,”—no matter how casually or jokingly said—may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
Misconception 2: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
Misconception 3: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.
Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
Misconception 4: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
Misconception 5: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
If you or a friend is struggling with mental illness and or suicide please speak up. Visit http://bonga.or.ke/ and speak freely, a problem shared is a problem half-solved.