The Stigma of Suicide

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with suicide presents a large barrier to giving help (and asking for help). By showing your support, we hope it will help reduce the stigma associated with suicide and encourage more people who may be feeling suicidal to seek help.

The stigma of suicide – possible explanations

Death is not something we discuss in everyday conversation. We do not feel comfortable in the knowledge that we will die someday and so such conversations are not commonplace. Indeed, given that we are driven by our survival instinct, is it little wonder we find it particularly difficult to comprehend when we hear that someone has taken their own life? Because people do not feel comfortable talking about death and because there is a stigma associated with suicide, people who are suicidal may withhold their feelings and not seek help. This presents a major problem.

What can be done to help the suicidal?

The sad reality is that, no matter what, some people will succumb to suicide but thankfully many suicides are preventable. It is important to remember that the majority of people who feel suicidal want to be helped and we can all do something to help. A starting point might be to recognise that the stigma associated with suicide presents a large barrier to giving, and asking for, help. Many of us feel uncomfortable about raising sensitive issues or addressing emotional concerns and we sometimes find it easier to let things go, rather than try to deal with them. Why? Fear of embarrassment, worries about saying the wrong thing or not knowing what to say or do are just some of the things that prevent us from tackling sensitive issues. However, trying to put our fears to one side, focusing on the individual in distress and showing genuine concern are the things that really matter.

How YOU can help the suicidal

For more information, the leaflet ‘Concerned About Suicide’, which is on the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) website has a section ‘How To Respond’ and this provides advice on how to deal with such situations.

If you haven’t already done so, why not read the section on Suicide Awareness and Prevention which forms part of this website? It provides useful information regarding the warning signs associated with suicide and shows how you can help someone who may be suicidal.

Whatever you do, DO SOMETHING and help to prevent suicide