Recognising suicidality means saving lives
„I never thought that this issue could affect me one day.“
The risk of suicide is often not recognised
It is important that we, as Berliners, raise awareness of suicidality and work to reduce stigma towards mental illness and suicide. We do not want to resign ourselves to the current number of over 400 deaths per year in our city alone.
That is why we share our knowledge and expertise on suicidal behaviour, suicide risk and how to deal with suicidal people. Only in this way can we bring the topic to the centre of society and together better support those affected and their relatives.
The greater the awareness of the signs and effects of suicide is anchored in the population, the easier it is to address the topic. And talking about it can make the crucial, life-saving difference.
Suicidal thoughts – a definition
Suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts refer to various thoughts, wishes and ideas about death and suicide.
Suicidal thoughts are often divided into different stages:
- Some people with suicidal thoughts mainly wish for rest or a break.
- Some wish (without suiciding themselves) to be dead.
- Still others have concrete thoughts or plans for their own suicide.
- And some people also act with the specific goal of suicide.
Not every person experiences all these stages and not every person who experiences suicidal thoughts attempts to take their own life. Nevertheless, it is important that anyone and everyone can and may seek support when thoughts or wishes for rest, respite or death arise.
Triggers and motivations for suicidal thoughts are complex and individual. Behind the thought of killing oneself is often, above all, the desire to no longer have to live with the current life situation or crisis.
Suicide – causes
The causes of suicidal thoughts can be varied and anyone can experience a crisis that leads to suicidal thoughts.
Mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction or anxiety disorders can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts. But people without mental disorders also get into suicidal crises: For example, due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a physical illness or other stressful life situations.
Suicidal thoughts –
symptoms and warning signs
Signs of suicidal thoughts can vary greatly and often there are only indirect clues. If you notice such warning signs or changes in your loved one, you should not ignore them and try to talk to them. You can’t do much wrong, but you can do a lot right. If you are not sure how best to address your concern, you can find more information on the page “Addressing Suicidal Thoughts“. And first of all: by asking, you won’t give anyone the idea in the first place.
if someone suddenly feels much better after a very difficult crisis,
this is unfortunately not always a good sign, but also a warning signal.
Some people suddenly seem much happier when they have decided on a suicide plan.
Again, ask them.
We dispel the myths.
Suicide is a sensitive topic that on the one hand affects and touches many people and yet is hardly ever talked about. But in a society that does not talk openly about a topic, prejudices and misinformation often arise that make it difficult to understand and help.
In this article we want to point out some of the most common prejudices on the subject of suicide and show through facts that they are widespread myths that have little to do with reality.
Myth 1: People who talk about suicide don’t do it.
The figures speak a completely different language. Eight out of ten people affected announce their intention to take their own life in their environment. Suicide without signs is therefore the exception. The majority are desperate people who more or less clearly announce their suicide in their social environment. These announcements must therefore be taken seriously. You can find out more about the warning signs of suicidal thoughts at the top of this page.
Myth 2: Talking about suicide can lead to suicide.
The idea that talking about suicide will strengthen a suicidal person’s intentions or give them the idea to commit suicide in the first place is wrong. On the contrary, as a rule many affected persons find it very relieving to talk about their suicidal thoughts. And those who have not yet had suicidal thoughts will not get any if you ask them.
Myth 3: People who want to commit suicide cannot be stopped anyway.
Support and intervention can have a significant impact on people with suicidal thoughts. Often people with suicidal thoughts feel isolated, helpless and see only this one solution as a way out. In reality, there are always alternatives. But these are just not visible to those affected at that moment. The presence of support and the provision of appropriate help can save lives.
Myth 4: Only people with mental illness commit suicide.
Although mental illness is a significant risk factor for suicide, people without mental disorders can also develop suicidal thoughts. This is because suicidal thoughts usually arise from life crises that people with and without mental illness experience, such as a serious loss, a traumatic experience, loneliness or excessive demands in their professional or social environment. Chronic emotional stress can also lead to suicidal thoughts.
Myth 5: “The person just wants attention…”.
False: The person is drawing your attention to the fact that they need help. The statement makes it seem that suicidal thoughts are being used or faked to get attention. It can lead to the person’s thoughts not being taken seriously. This is dangerous because whether someone with a broken leg or with suicidal thoughts is asking for help, both deserve your attention.
Myth 6: People with families, professional success or lots of money are not affected by suicidality.
Suicidality affects all income and education levels. Even people who are supposedly “well off” can get into crises from which they no longer see a way out. They too deserve to be taken seriously.