By Tiago Zortea.
This is an understandable concern. Suicide is a delicate issue since it involves suffering, emotional pain, and sometimes stigma for those who have lost loved ones through suicide or feel suicidal themselves . In addition, there is a well-known phenomenon called the “Werther effect” (or copycat suicide) where a person bases a suicide attempt on another suicide they have heard about (e.g., in the media). When it comes to asking someone whether they have suicidal thoughts, people might feel particularly reticent due to a concern that they will become responsible for that person if the answer is “yes”. These sorts of concerns can discourage people from talking and asking about suicide, and reinforce the idea that these conversations might, in themselves, increase the risk of inducing suicidal ideation and behaviour, especially if the conversation is with someone who is already depressed or psychologically distressed.
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Tiago Zortea (@zortea_tiago) is a Clinical Psychologist, MSc Psychology & Human Ethology, and a PhD student in the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, University of Glasgow (email@example.com).