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Challenging Stigma

On this page you will find:

Photo of two pairs of men and woman hugging.

Stigma and discrimination

The word and topic of suicide can make many people uncomfortable. There is still stigma attached to suicide with associated feelings of shame, weakness, blame, or even crime. This stigma can stop people from talking about their feelings, and seeking or offering help.

It is vital that as a community we challenge the stigma and discrimination linked to suicide. Doing so could save lives.

To read more about stigma and discrimination linked to mental health, visit our mental health: challenging stigma page.

Challenging stigma

Here are some ways you can help to challenge stigma:

  • Speak out – this can involve making a statement or doing an action which shows your disapproval or objection. It is possible to make small, individual stands like speaking out or signing a petition.
  • Show people reliable and accurate information – this can help people to understand more, making them less likely to judge. The Start a Conversation website provides reliable information and signposting.
  • Talk about your experience – sharing your story and having more conversations about mental health and suicide can help to improve people's understanding. This could involve joining a panel or network, such as the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Suicide Lived Experience Network, that aims to listen to lived experience and use it to improve outcomes. You can find more information on our suicide lived experience network page.
  • Get involved in a campaign – use Start a Conversation resources or join the campaign to help raise awareness.

Myths about suicide

There are a number of thoughts linked to suicide that are just myths. One way to help yourself and those around you is to make sure you understand the facts. Take a read through some of these myths below.

You can't ask someone if they're feeling suicidal.

False: Evidence shows that asking someone directly about if they are feeling suicidal or thinking about suicide could protect them. Starting this conversation provides someone with the space and permission to tell you how they really feel.

People who talk about suicide don't really mean it and are just seeking attention. They shouldn't be taken seriously.

False: If someone talks about ending their life, they should always be taken seriously. It may well be that they are talking about it to try and get the help and support they need. Being open and taking this seriously may save their life.

People who are feeling suicidal want to die.

False: The majority of people who experience feelings of suicide don't actually want to die, instead they want the situation they're in or the way they are feeling to stop and see no other way of making this happen. Often the feelings or situation causing hopelessness are temporary.

You can't tell when someone is feeling suicidal.

True & False: Suicide is complex and therefore very different for each person. Some people may not show any signs that they are struggling to cope, however, some people might. It is important to watch out for signs of changes in those closest to you. Find out more about some of the possible signs that someone may not be ok on our advice page.

You can find more myths that have been busted on the Samaritans website.

Suicide safer language

A suicide is everyone's business, so it is important as a community that we use the appropriate language when talking about suicide to help prevent further hurt and loss.

Below is our guide which highlights the most common phrases and language which can be problematic, especially in promoting negative stereotypes, alongside some preferred alternatives.

Emergency Help

Call 999 if there is a threat to life