Died By Suicide ; Not Commited Suicide
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
In honor of Suicide Prevention Week, I am going to be sharing multiple blog posts this week! This post topic is very important to me and the rest of the mental illness community because WORDS MATTER. The wording of something can change the whole meaning behind someone's choice to ask for help or too afraid to ask. I am specifically talking about suicide in this case.
An old phrase that is still ingrained in my head is "commit suicide" because this is a phrase I grew up to learn. It's a part of the old generation of mental health language. Well times are changing and more accurate research, resources, and awareness are here. "Commit suicide" is no longer a correct or accurate term. "Died by suicide" is the new and improved version of when we discuss someone dying by suicide. I am learning just as you are about this and am trying to break the habit of saying or thinking the phrase "commit suicide".
Why does it matter how we word it?
It matters because it's a matter of reducing or increasing the suicide rate. Yes, your wording can have that effect on people. What are some other phrases you can think of that start with the word "commit"? Was it "commit murder" or something similar? That's the problem. The word commit indirectly criminalizes people who die from suicide. That's not fair to criminalize someone who dies from an illness.
Do we criminalize people who die from a heart attack? Then why do we criminalize people who die from suicide? Someone who dies from a heart attack most likely had some type of heart disease just like someone who dies from suicide most likely had some type of mental illness. The reason why people don't understand this concept might be because they don't have a true understanding of mental illnesses. It's not always their fault; that's just what they were taught whether that be from the media or from other people they know. I am someone who has had a mental illness for most of my life and had a faulted view on mental illnesses until recently.
What people may not understand is that a mental illness is not when someone is crazy or "just looking for attention." It's an actual illness that is due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Unfortunately, words do affect the chemicals in your brain which is why the wording of suicide matters. When someone is having suicidal thoughts and they hear the terms "commit suicide" that can make them feel wrong and bad for having these thoughts. It can make them feel like they're a criminal. Just like someone who wants to commit murder, they're going to be hesitant to share what they've been thinking.
Who does saying "commit suicide" really affect? Does it affect anyone?
It does affect people believe it or not. It affects those who are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts and ideation, who have in the past, and who will in the future. It also affects these peoples loved ones as well. Putting the word commit in front of the word suicide is not fair. When someone dies from suicide, they are not committing a crime. They unfortunately had been suffering from their mental illness that lead to their death. Again, this may be a hard concept to grasp. It even is for me sometimes when I have to explain why "committing suicide" is wrong to say. However, I am aware of the effect it can play into someones decision to ask for help or not.
It took me about a year to admit to people other than my closest friends and family that I had suicidal thoughts at one point. I remember feeling so embarrassed for ever having those thoughts which is why I wasn't as open about it until I realized I didn't commit a crime for having those thoughts. I was just suffering from my illness! I am thankful that I had the courage to tell my husband and mom about my suicidal thoughts because they were able to rush me to a hospitalization program.
If you are currently suffering from suicidal thoughts I want you to tell someone whether that be a loved one or someone on the Suicide Hotline ( 1-800-273-8255 ). You are not in the wrong for having these thoughts. The chemicals in your brain are just unfortunately not balanced, but they can be balanced by asking for help! Do not be ashamed or embarrassed of these thoughts. Suicide is not the answer to your problems even if you see that as the only option to ending your pain. From experience, I have been there where suicide appeared to be my only option. I am soooo beyond glad I got help because that was not the case at all.
Let's #stopsuicide by first changing our wording because WORDS MATTER!