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Common misconceptions about suicide

  • Published at 09:15 pm January 24th, 2018
Common misconceptions about suicide
Almost one in three of Bangladesh’s population or 50 million people are suffering from mental disorders, according to a 2016 survey by the National Institute of Mental Health and Research (NIMH&R). But for mental health-related treatment, there are only 790 places and 220 doctors spread across the NIMH&R in Dhaka and the government-run facility at Pabna Mental Hospital. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) recorded 107 child suicide from January-September 2016, and 170 cases of child suicide from within January-October 2017. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data more than 10 000 people are dying by suicide in Bangladesh. Among students aged 13-17, four percent of boys and six percent of girls consider attempting suicide in the country. Over 800 000 people die by suicide every year globally and it is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds, according to WHO figures. “There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide,” a report by WHO on suicide prevention states. Suicide is a serious mental health issue globally and in Bangladesh. But it is not present in the public discourse, as a result awareness about the causes and prevention is almost non-existent. But suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. In order to understand the phenomenon better let's look at some of the misconceptions commonly held that can raise awareness and equip people with the accurate knowledge and help determine when intervention is needed. Myth 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. Myth 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. Myth 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. Myth 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. Myth 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. Myth 6: Suicide is more prevalent in the developed countries. Fact: This is not necessarily true. Over 78% of global suicides occurred in low and middle income countries in 2015. Sayedul Ashraf Kushal is a mental health counselor and the founder and CEO of mental health service provider 'LifeSpring'.