Myths and Facts about SuicidePosted: September 15, 2021
In 2017, 6,200 children and adolescents died by suicide, ranking suicide as the second leading cause of death among youth. However, the number of kids who have suicidal thoughts or survive suicide attempts outnumber the amount of kids who die by suicide.
In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified suicide and suicidal behavior as a public health crisis. Suicidal behavior can be defined as:
- Suicidal ideation: thinking about ending one’s life
- Suicide attempt: non‐fatal suicidal behavior
- Suicide: a successful attempt at ending one’s life
Youth Suicide Myths and Facts
Myth: Young people who talk about suicide are just attention‐seeking. They never attempt to or actually take their own lives.
Fact: Youth who talk or write about suicide should always be taken seriously.
Myth: If someone is suicidal, no one can stop them, and they will be suicidal forever.
Fact: Suicide is preventable. If the proper help is received, they are less likely to attempt suicide.
Myth: Suicidal behavior is hereditary.
Fact: While suicidal behavior tends to be visible in families, suicide is not hereditary. More importantly, youth engaging in suicidal behavior need to know ending their life is not the only option.
Myth: All suicidal young people are depressed.
Fact: While depressed mood is common, not everyone displaying suicidal behavior is depressed.
Myth: Improvement in mental health after a crisis means that the risk of suicide is over.
Fact: Improvement in mood after signs of suicidal behavior may signal that the person has decided to take their own life and should still be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Myth: Talking about suicide or asking someone if they feel suicidal will encourage suicide attempts.
Fact: Talking about suicide provides a safe space for communication. The first step in encouraging a person with thoughts of suicide to live starts with discussing those feelings. Nonetheless, talking about suicide should be handled with care.
Risk Factors of Suicide
- Existing psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, conduct disorders, and substance abuse disorders
- Family history of depression, suicide attempts, or death by suicide
- Youth identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
- Loss of a parent to death or divorce
- Physical and/or sexual abuse
- Lack of support system
- Feelings of isolation
- A sense of failure at school or in relationships
- A relationship break‐up
- Recent suicide of a friend or relative, or an anniversary of a suicide or the death of someone close to them
Warning Signs Parents Need to Know
- Talking or writing about death or about feeling trapped with no way out
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Isolating from family and friends
- No longer participating in previously enjoyed activities
- Using or increasing use of drugs and alcohol
- Giving away personal items
- Participating in dangerous or risky activities
- Presence of delusions or hallucinations
- Frequently self‐harming
- Notable changes in mood
Stress can also significantly contribute to or trigger suicidal behavior, whether immediate stress or stress that accumulates over an extended period of time. Children and adolescents who have a history of self-harming or suicide attempts are at a higher risk of suicidal behavior. If you know someone who is struggling emotionally, please reach out for support.
Resources and Where to Get Support
Hours: Available 24 hours
Phone Number: 800‐273‐8255
Available Languages: English and Spanish
For more information about suicide prevention visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Provides free emotional support from a trained specialist and information to teens in any type of crisis 24 hours a day. Text Home to 74174.
Provides information to help yourself or a friend who may be having suicidal thoughts as well as information on how to cope if a friend dies by suicide.
Offers suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people 24/7.
- Trevor Lifeline (toll‐free phone line): 71‐866‐488‐7386
- TrevorText: text START to 678‐678 confidential text messaging with a trained counselor
- TrevorChat: confidential, online instant messaging with a trained counselor
- TrevorSpace: an online, international peer‐to‐peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends
- Trevor Support Center: LGBTQ youth and allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity and more
This is for pre‐teens, teens, and young adults who are in crisis or feeling overwhelmed. Hotline (toll free): 1‐800‐448‐3000
Text "VOICE" to 20121
Counseling Services Offered at Le Bonheur
Dr. Eraina Schauss, founder and director of The BRAIN Center at the University of Memphis, has partnered with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital to provide counseling services to trauma patients and their caregivers. Trauma Counseling Services at Le Bonheur, led by clinical director Dr. Kiersten Hawes, aims to strengthen the social‐emotional health of patients and families who have been affected by various life‐altering events upon admission. Dr. Hawes oversees an integrated behavioral health team consisting of graduate student interns from The University of Memphis who conduct screenings for acute stress and behavioral health concerns and provide evidenced based counseling interventions for children and families seen in the Inpatient and Outpatient Trauma Clinic.