Emi Golding, Director of Psychology for The Workplace Mental Health Institute outlines the top 5 suicide myths.
Video #2: The Top 5 Suicide Myths
We’re pleased to bring you the second in a series of videos by our Director of Psychology, Emi Golding, aiming to shed some light on the issue of workplace suicide.
In this video, Emi discusses perhaps the top 5 myths you’ll hear around suicide.
For those of you watching in an open plan office, we’ve provided the transcript of the video below.
Thank you for watching.
Transcript of video
The World Health Organisation says that worker suicide is the result of a complex interaction between vulnerabilities in the individual and factors in the work environment, that trigger stress reactions and make for poor mental wellbeing.
As leaders, we have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and that includes managing the stress levels at work.
It’s been estimated that suicide costs the Australian economy around $17.5 billion per year and death claims paid out for suicide by life insurers is more than $100 million a year.
But money aside, suicide cuts lives short and leaves scars.
Sometimes we hear that a person threatening suicide is just crying out for attention, and they won’t really do it.
This is a myth. If a person is threatening suicide, they are clearly in distress about their situation, and we should take action to help, regardless of whether we think they are serious or not, or what we think the level of risk is. If a person is crying out for help – let’s help them!
In fact, most people who have suicided, did reach out for help at some point.
Understanding the myths around suicide can help us identify warning signs more early and take the appropriate action. These are perhaps the top 5 myths circulating around suicide.
“People who suicide are weak or cowards.”
FACT: The person who is considering suicide is suffering immensely, which takes great strength to bear. Suicide is not an ‘easy way out’, physically or emotionally.
“People who suicide are brave and honourable.”
FACT: While some cultures do consider suicide an honourable act in certain situations, we also must be careful not to glamourise or glorify suicide. For that reason there are strict regulations about how suicide should be reported in the media.
“People who suicide are all mentally unwell.”
FACT: 90% of people who suicide are found to have a mental illness, but 10% do not. Some of those people may not have a mental illness, but perhaps did have a sudden loss (job, finances, relationship, loved one). Others may have come to the decision to take their life after much consideration of their circumstances. For example, perhaps the person has reached an age where they feel they do not wish to be a burden on others, and will end it their way, or perhaps they have a terminal illness. These are examples of cases where the person is not mentally unwell.
“People who suicide are selfish.”
FACT: Usually when people think this, it is because they are focussing on the feelings of the friends and family left behind. What we know is that the person thinking about suicide is in such a degree of suffering that they consider the pain of living to be worse than the pain caused to friends and family. In many cases the person feels like a burden to others and thinks ‘they’ll be better off without me’. Suicide is not a selfish act.
“People who suicide want to die.”
FACT: The majority of people who have attempted suicide, say that they did not want to die. But they did not want to continue living with the suffering they were in. Most people also state they are glad they did not die.
How many of these were you surprised the learn were in fact a myth?
When you are assisting someone who might be thinking of suicide, remember that their way of thinking is very different from how they would think normally. Regardless of our own personal beliefs and values about suicide, we need to let go of any judgement in order to help them as best we can.
Now, as leaders and work colleagues there is something very important we can do. We can learn to identify the warning signs of suicide, so we can reach out to someone at risk, before things move past the point of no return.
So please, share this video. And if you haven’t already, download our Suicide Warning Signs Guide and familiarise yourself with the 13 warning signs of a person at risk of suicide.
And if you would like to develop your skills in this area, we offer an online Suicide Prevention course. In it you’ll learn some practical, life saving skills to identify the warning signs early and intervene correctly. The course can be completed on any desktop or mobile device, at a time that is convenient to you. Head to the link on the screen to find out more.
Thank you and take care.