Language plays a big part in how we communicate about suicide. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to know how to communicate well about suicide and avoid being hurtful. But you can make small changes in your language that can help reduce the stigma of suicide in your own community, amongst your family and friends group.
The stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide can often prevent people from speaking out or reaching out.
Our friends at Mindframe have provided guidelines and suggestions for discussing this sensitive issue. You can help reduce the stigma of suicide by using this guide when talking to friends, family and in your workplace.
Try not to present suicide as a desired outcome.
Instead of saying: 'successful suicide', 'unsuccessful suicide'.
Say: 'died by suicide’, 'took their own life'.
Try not to associate suicide with crime or sin.
Instead of saying: 'committed suicide', 'commit suicide'.
Say: 'took their own life', 'suicide death'.
Don’t sensationalise suicide.
Don’t say: 'suicide epidemic' 'increasing rates', 'higher rates'.
Don’t use Language glamourising a suicide attempt.
Don’t say: 'failed suicide', 'suicide bid’, 'suicide attempt', or 'non-fatal attempt'.
Gratuitous use of the term 'suicide'.
Don’t say: 'political suicide', 'suicide mission'. Refrain from using the term suicide out of context.
You can help reduce the stigma.
When communicating about suicide, be mindful of:
- using safe, inclusive language
- removing method and location details
- correcting myths and stereotypes about suicide
- helping to reduce fear, shame and stigma around suicide
If you are struggling and need help. We're here 24/7 on 13 11 14 via Text on 0477 13 11 14 or Chat on https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat