I’m not a huge fan of worrying about how I phrase things. This is one of my many flaws but also one of my better qualities. I say it like it is. I keep it real. I don’t flower things up for the sake of someone’s feelings and I prefer to be spoken to the same way. I’m restrained in this group but those who know me, know that I can be crass but that it comes from a place of honesty, love and sometimes humor. I’m not saying it’s right or it’s a better way, it’s just my way.
Since losing my Dad to suicide in 2011, I’ve participated in support groups, seminars, sensitivity training and events. I’ve immersed myself in the suicide prevention community because I want to absorb as much as possible about the whys and more importantly, how to be more aware, spread some knowledge, help prevent suicides and help those that have survived the death of a loved one by suicide.
This leads me to the reason for this post. When a person dies by suicide, we have been programmed to say things like “He committed suicide” or “She killed herself”. These statements criminalize a death by suicide when in fact, the death was due to an illness. These statements put blame on the person that died and minimize the most important part of the situation which is that they were sick and suffering. Sensitivity training has been tough, but this is one of the take-aways of value. This particular part of the training hit home for me. Yes, I still screw up and phrase it the ‘old’ way but I genuinely try to be mindful of this whenever I’m discussing suicide.
To summarize, the word ‘committed’ aligns with crime and is no longer accepted among the suicide prevention community. The phrase “killed herself” (or himself) aligns with blame and is no longer appropriate in speaking about a person who died by suicide. Please share this info if you happen to be in a discussion about the loss of life by suicide.