Conversations about suicide are never easy. It can be incredibly hard to know whether to speak up to someone you’re worried about. If you think someone is considering suicide, you may also feel confused and scared about what to do next.
But, there is one simple thing all of us can do to help reduce the stigma around suicide. That is, stop using the ‘c’ word. People don’t commit suicide.
I learned that the phrase, which sounds harmless and one I’ve said many times without knowing and understanding has blame and judgement attached to it.
We commit crimes. We commit sins. “Commit” is associated with something that is illegal, conveys shame and wrong-doing. It implies the person who died wasn’t a victim, but a perpetrator.
In other words, we don’t commit a heart attack. But we hear “died by a heart attack.” Dying by suicide is the same. When attaching the word ‘committed,’ it further discriminates against those who lost their battle against a disease. It also prevents people from seeking help because of the shame and judgement.
Instead of saying the word ‘committed’, try saying “died by suicide.” It sends the message that the death was caused by a mental health condition.
Changing how we talk about mental health can be so powerful. Changing words and our language can shift our views, stereotypes and perceptions from negative, shame, judgement to one of hope, support and help.
It’s a tiny step but a really big one for changing and reducing the stigma about mental health, mental illness and suicide.
Here is some more info about how to use safe language and communication about suicide.
If you are in crisis or someone you know is in crisis, please visit domore.ag for a list of resources across Canada.