Scientific American presents Savvy Psychologist by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

The media frenzy is starting to settle after the tragic suicide of Robin Williams. Some of the coverage, I was happy to see, was sensitive and compassionate, while some was just plain irresponsible, sensationalistic, and full of specific details—all of which can put vulnerable people at risk, and perpetuate misinformation.

So, this week on the Savvy Psychologist, we’ll set right 7 myths about suicide.

Myth #1: People Who Attempt Suicide Are Just Trying to Get Attention / It’s a Cry for Help
Fact:  Most individuals who attempt or complete suicide—over 90%—are suffering from a mental illness. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, drug dependence, or often a combination of a few of the above, can set the stage for suicide. Even though his sobriety was intact, Robin Williams was reportedly suffering from severe depression. 

Framing suicide as a method to get attention paints those who are sick as manipulative, when in fact, they are simply really ill. In addition, even if a suicide attempt is a cry for help, it means they need help—so help.

> Continue reading on