Language when talking about suicide

People affected by suicide are vulnerable and can fear the reaction of others. Talking about suicide and be sure we talk about it in a way that is helpful and healthy.

The language people use to talk about suicide is from a different time. The word ‘commit’ comes from a time when suicide was treated as a crime. As we learn more about suicide, our language has evolved. We are trying to learn more about people who think about or attempt suicide, and to be compassionate and thoughtful when we talk about it.

The more we can use language that accurately and sensitively describes suicide, the more we encourage a healthy and respectful way to talk about suicide. 

“Suicide is no longer a crime, and so we should stop saying that people commit suicide. We now live in a world where we seek to understand people who experience suicidal thoughts, behaviors and attempts, and then to treat them with compassion rather than condemn them. Part of this is to use appropriate, non-stigmatizing terminology when referring to suicide.”Susan Beaton, Suicide Prevention Specialist

How to talk about suicide

Avoid stigmatizing terminology
  • Committed suicide
  • Successful suicide
  • Completed suicide
  • Failed attempt at suicide
  • Unsuccessful suicide
Use appropriate terminology
  • Died by suicide
  • Suicided
  • Ended his/her life
  • Took his/her life
  • Attempt to end his/her life


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Posted in News/Announcements, Suicide Prevention.