Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do people die by suicide?

People who die by suicide are often having intense feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and may not see any other way out of their emotional pain. It is important to remember that most people who attempt suicide do not really want to die. They simply want to end the pain they are experiencing.

2. Is it true that people attempt suicide as a cry for help?

The suicide attempt is quite often a conscious or unconscious method for getting others to recognise just how badly the individual is feeling. Yes, suicide attempts are very often cries for help

3. If someone in a family has completed suicide, are other members of the family tempted to try suicide when they have problems?

If someone in a family has completed suicide, other family members may be tempted because suicidal behaviour has been "modelled' for them. However, suicide behaviours are not inherited in families.

4. Do people ever attempt suicide to "get attention" or to get others to feel sorry for them?

Anyone who attempts suicide in order to get attention desperately needs it. It is tragic when someone feels they need to bargain with their life in order to have their problems taken seriously. Any suicide attempt needs to be taken seriously.

5. If a person attempts suicide and fails, what is the likelihood of them trying again?

One of the important warning signs for suicide is a prior attempt. Anyone who attempts suicide once is more likely to try suicide again than those who have never attempted. However, many people who receive licensed professional medical and behavioural health care following a suicide attempt may never become suicidal again.

6. Is it true that people who attempt to kill themselves really don't want to die?

Many people who attempt suicide are ambivalent about life. They want to live and die at the same time. But, as noted in number 1, it is not that the person really wants to die, but rather that death may seem like the only way to end the emotional pain the suicidal person may be feeling. It is the pain they want to end usually, not the life.

7. Will a person who is deeply depressed always become suicidal?

While it is true that suicidal feelings often develop in a person who is deeply depressed, the fact that one is depressed does not mean that a person will become suicidal.

8. Does anyone ever impulsively try suicide and then become sorry for making such an attempt?

A person at a particular moment may find the emotional pain being experienced absolutely intolerable. At a given moment, a suicide attempt might impulsively be made which, in retrospect, might be regretted.

9. Does taking drugs or alcohol increase one's chances of becoming suicidal?

Taking drugs or alcohol in excess can exaggerate painful feelings to a point where the feelings become intolerable. In such a state, a person might attempt suicide who otherwise would not go that far.

10. Is a person who attempts suicide mentally ill?

All suicidal individuals are not necessarily mentally ill, though many people who attempt or complete suicide may have symptoms of mental illness, the most common being some form of depression. It is important to note that most depression is of a temporary nature and is treatable.

11. Is it true that gay teenagers are at higher risk for suicide than teenagers in general?

Studies in the US indicate that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth account for some 30% of all youth suicides, yet constitute only about 10% of the total youth population. Thus, it is clear that such youth are at much higher risk for suicide than the youth population as a whole.

12. How can one help a person who is suicidal?

A person who feels that life is too painful is often feeling very worthless, perhaps unloved, perhaps isolated Showing such individuals some real caring, by listening to them, accepting their feelings without judgment, by staying close, and getting others to be supportive, can really help. Giving time and really listening to someone in crisis is critical. It may be important to refer the person to a professional medical or mental health worker at some point.

13. How does talking about suicide help to prevent it?

Talking about suicide diffuses some of the intensity of suicidal feelings. It helps the person get connected to the help that may be needed. It creates a climate of caring and helps to break through the loneliness and isolation a person may be experiencing. By asking someone in crisis if they are suicidal, we give that person permission to talk about possible suicidal feelings, about which they may otherwise feel they cannot, or should not, talk about.

14. Is suicide or attempted suicide against the law?

At one time suicide or attempted suicide was against the law. In Ireland it has only been within the last 20 years that suicide has ceased to be a crime.

15. What effects does a suicide have on the individual's remaining family and friends?

The survivors of a suicide are left with complex and often confusing feelings of rage, guilt, despair, grief, loss, shame, etc. Recovery from the loss of a loved one by suicide is a very difficult form of grief to resolve, and may never be completely resolved. It has been estimated that every suicide, on average, has a direct, profound emotional impact on 8 to 12 other people. With some 30,000 suicides each year in the EU, there are consequently a huge number of emotionally impacted "suicide survivors".

16. Why do some people keep secret the fact of a suicide in the family?

Some people keep the fact of suicide in the family a secret out of fear of being blamed or socially ostracized. Fortunately today, much of the historical stigma of suicide is lifting and people are dealing with suicidal death more directly and honestly.

17. What are the most common methods used by teenagers to attempt or complete suicides?

Lethal methods for attempting suicide by teenagers include guns, hanging, carbon monoxide, jumping, and drug overdoses. Auto accidents account for many deaths, but it is often difficult to determine whether the death is suicide or an accident.

18. Do more men or women make attempts on their lives?

Although about three times as many women attempt suicide than do men, about four times as many men complete suicide than do women. This is due to the fact that men use more lethal methods, such as guns or hanging, while women are more likely to attempt suicide by using pills.

19. Does everybody think about suicide at least once in their lifetime?

At some point in their lives, most people have at least fleeting thoughts of suicide, especially in times of personal crisis but it does not mean a person will die by suicide.