Each year, nearly 800,000 people die by suicide, and for each of these fatalities, 20 more people make an attempt. To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, which occurs annually on September 10, here are five common questions asked about suicide prevention.

If someone is suicidal, can I really change their mind?

In most cases, people who contemplate suicide don’t want to die. Rather, they want a reprieve from the overwhelming pain and despair they feel. Talking through ways to manage their distress may convince them there’s an alternative.

If a suicidal person suddenly gets better, are they OK?

It’s possible that a sudden change in outlook indicates someone is no longer in danger of committing suicide. However, it’s also possible that making the decision to die has provided relief and closure. The only way to know for sure is to have an open and honest conversation with the person.

If someone is suicidal, is there time to prevent them from taking action?

Most suicides don’t happen suddenly. An accumulation of problems coupled with a “last straw” is more likely to lead to suicidal thoughts than a traumatic event.

What‘s the link between mental illness and suicide?

Most people who commit suicide have untreated or ongoing mental health issues. However, most people with mental health issues don’t commit or contemplate suicide.

Are threats of suicide always real?

On average, four out of five people who are suicidal communicate their intent to take their own life. It’s always best to take threats of suicide seriously. Ignoring or dismissing them would be deeply irresponsible.

If you’re worried about yourself or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to ask for help, either through a suicide prevention service, your health-care provider or someone close to you.

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