Wrong assumption 1: “You shouldn’t talk about it, as you will actually provoke suicide by giving them the idea”
False. Research has shown that talking about suicidal thoughts prevents the act of suicide. The person in question already entertains the idea, but because of feelings of shame and fear of judgment they keep it to themselves. This only makes it worse and can lead to a fatal ending.
Wrong assumption 2: “Someone who really wants to die will go through with it no matter what”
False. Encouraging someone to talk about their suicidal thoughts can prevent the act of suicide as the barriers of loneliness and shame are broken. Professional help offers the suicidal person the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Wrong assumption 3: “Someone who really wants to die isn’t going to talk about it”
Almost always false. The vast majority of suicidal people signal their intentions prior to the act. However, it is unlikely that those close to the suicidal person have learned to read such signals, know how to react, and know what to do and what not to do.
Wrong assumption 4: “Someone who threatens to go through with it often backs out”
False. People who regularly talk about committing suicide will eventually go through with the act, often after several attempts. Talking about it almost always indicates a cry for help. However, because it isn’t initially expressly voiced, but can only be read between the lines, this can lead to a wrong reaction. This in turn causes frustration, whereby the person in question feels even more hopeless.
Wrong assumption 5: “There probably aren’t people in my neighborhood with suicidal plans”
Almost always false. In The Netherlands alone 500,000 (half a million!) people struggle with suicidal thoughts every year. Approximately 30 Dutch people commit suicide every week. Although people often don’t talk about it, many consider committing suicide without those close to them realizing it.
Wrong assumption 6: “You can’t do anything about it: that is something for psychiatrists and psychologists”
False. Approximately a quarter of all suicidal persons have never talked to a professional care worker. If pastoral workers and minsters receive training, many signals can be noticed on time and professional help can be offered.
For additional information, useful summaries and compiled information be sure to also check out the resources page.
““SUICIDEPREVENTION for CHURCHES”. In Heerenveen, the Netherlands. This is a translation of the original text and website, available on suicidepreventievoorkerken.nl. This document may be used freely as printscreen if it is kept unchanged and the source is mentioned. Design by Willem van den Berg 2015.