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3 Reasons You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Talk About Suicide

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We often feel most comfortable talking about suicide in the form of statistics. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide. For every suicide 25 others attempt. These statistics communicate important information, but they don’t come close to portraying the raw, hopeless, pain that someone with suicidal thoughts is feeling, or the heartbreaking grief of a friend or family member who has lost someone they love. Oftentimes, the reality of suicide feels uncomfortable merely because we don’t understand it, or don’t know how to act when we are confronted by it. Fear is often the largest deterrent, keeping peers, friends and loved ones from speaking up when they really should.

Here are several reasons why you should break through your discomfort in talking about suicide:

1. You could learn something new.

Our culture, background, genetics and experiences all work together to create a unique perspective on how we relate to the world. Although you may think about depression, anxiety or another mental health issue in a certain way, your friend or loved one may have a completely different way of thinking about it. Making a connection with someone is about more than shared perspective or opinions. It’s about really taking the time to actively listen to what they’re saying and, more importantly, why they are saying it. Understanding where the words are coming from gives us valuable information as to who they are as individuals and what they value. You can play an important role in assisting a friend or peer who may be struggling with a mental health issue.

2. It won’t put the idea in someone’s head.

One myth that a lot of people tend to believe is that talking about suicide makes someone more likely to consider or follow through with it. But the reality is, this person has most likely already been thinking these things, and you bringing up this subject they’ve been afraid to is one of the most helpful things you can do.

3. It could save someone’s life.

The majority of people who die by suicide tell someone or give warning signs beforehand. Your words and actions could be life-saving. Those who have thoughts of suicide often feel a loss of connection to others. Your willingness to have an open conversation with them could make a huge difference. The more we, as a public, talk openly about suicide, the more people don’t feel like they are going through this alone. Visit Stop a Suicide to learn how to have this conversation with a friend or loved one.

Are you feeling empowered to take action for a friend or loved one in need? Visit Stop a Suicide today to turn your inspiration into action.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: October 4, 2016
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