When it comes to discussions surrounding suicide the words used are important. They are important in suicide prevention and in other ways. How we talk about things is a reflection of how society views things, people’s attitudes and such. Our words have power. That is why the term committed suicide needs to leave the discussion as we learn more about how words shape feelings and ideas. Committed suicide suggests a wrong doing when people would commit crimes sins. People committed adultery, suicide, and murder. It is placed with other things that are negative or bad. If we are going to be more open about suicide and communicate better as part of successful prevention, the words we use are important.


Think of the person

Focussing on a person’s mental illness or method of death as a way to identify them diminishes them and who they were. A great example of knowing how to term things is to consider if it was cancer that caused a death. You would not say a person committed to cancer, you would say they died of cancer. So instead of talking about committing suicide use died of suicide. When talking about warning signs of suicide we need to be careful of phrases like a cry for help. It has a sense of less importance, especially when often people use the word just in front of those words, it was just a cry for help. Rather than being dismissive of such behaviors, we need to learn about them and try to better understand the person.


Other common phrases that need to be reconsidered

The idea that ‘suicide is selfish’ and that the person thinking about it is selfish and not thinking about others. This is very often not the case, it is just that they think while their death will have an impact it will be limited or short and that being gone will be for the best, as they will no longer be a burden.


Another phrase people throw around without thought in talks about suicide prevention is that those who died by suicide ‘made their choice’. Considering their thoughts are impaired there is no rational thinking going on so it was not really a choice they made. They are often in emotional pain so great they cannot see that there are alternatives.


Sending better-worded messaging that offers hope

It will take more than just a few people using the right language and sending the message of hope and love with better words. Everyone in schools, communities where youths go, workplaces, homes and healthcare need to learn a more compassionate way of talking about suicide and talking to people about it. That way the myths and falsehoods can be left behind.



Talking about the warning signs of suicide and other aspects is essential. But just as important is how we talk and the words we use. Focus on the messages that get it right and the stories that inspire us to heal. Spread the right language through resources, charities and training.

Author's Bio: 

When it comes to discussions surrounding suicide the words used are important. They are important in suicide prevention and in other ways.