Suicide loss is the subject of many myths and misconceptions. The greatest of thesesis often voiced by suicidal individuals -- the mistaken belief that no one will care or will be affected by the suicide. Other myths of suicide loss are equally misguided:
Myth 1: There is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent the suicide. - Not all suicides can be prevented because some victims show little sign of their suicidality and others take steps to avoid discovery or rescue. Nonetheless, at some point in the process a timely intervention might have averted the tragic outcome.
Myth 2: In time those affected by the loss of someone to suicide will get over it. - Suicide loss is characterized by a long, severe, and painful grief that may not abate. It certainly takes longer to resolve than grief associated with more "normal" deaths.
Myth 3: Someone who has never experienced a suicide loss can know what it is like. - "I know what you are going through" can only be true if the speaker is also a suicide griever. Those who have never endured trauma can learn to be sensitive to those who have, but this does not result in "feeling" the trauma.
Myth 4: Those who endure a suicide loss are made stronger by it. - Suicide loss shatters personal beliefs, depletes self-esteem, leads to depression, and sometimes to suicide. Recovering from a suicide loss alone is a demanding process. Most who experience it have little energy to do more than survive.
Myth 5: Those who are young when a parent or sibling suicides are spared the pain. - The very young often feel the effect years later when they learn what happened. Children grieve and may have serious problems if it is not acknowledged and supported.
Myth 6: A suicide by an older person doesn't affect others as it does if the victim is young.- The grievers of an elder victim may be told that he/she "was old and going to die anyway." This marginalizes their grief.
Myth 7: Being around others who have had such a loss will just make you feel worse. - Such contact is usually beneficial. It shows that one is not alone. Interacting with other survivors helps "normalize" the loss by demonstrating that one is not alone.
Myth 8: Those around someone who has had a suicide loss shouldn't talk about it. - Ignoring loss is denying loss. It should not be given "the silent treatment." Hurtful or stigmatizing comments about suicide should be avoided, but talking about the loss with a survivor can be very supportive.
Myth 9: Learning about suicide after having a suicide loss will not do any good. - Most who suffer a suicide loss need to know how it came to happen and understand "why."
Myth 10: Stigma is no longer associated with suicide loss. - There may still be hurtful remarks about the victim, what motivated their death, and the grievers' responsibility or knowledge of their intent.
Copyright © 2003-10
Tony Salvatore Springfield, PA, USA
Paul 1968-96 Suicide Paradigm | Ethics Side of Suicide | Lamenting Sons: Fathers & Grief | Suicide Loss FAQs | About Elder Suicide | Memo to Suicidal Young People
Some Other Sites About Suicide and Suicide Loss
The Suicide Paradigm Guide | The Vocabulary of Grief (A glossary)