Why Mental Health Advocates Use the Words “Died by Suicide”
June 15, 2018
As the country grapples with recent high-profile suicide deaths, prevention experts emphasize that suicide is complex. They recommend using language that does not oversimplify suicide or inadvertently place blame on the person who died. For example, they suggest using the phrase “died by suicide” instead of “committed suicide,” and avoiding questions that place responsibility on the person who died, such as “How could someone do this?” Since suicide is associated with a diverse set of factors, it is misleading to attribute it to just one cause, such as depression. While suicidal behavior can be a symptom of depression, only a small fraction of people with depression die by suicide, according to Rebecca Bernert, suicidologist and director/founder of the Stanford Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory. If you are concerned a loved one might be at risk for suicide, Dr. Bernert recommends starting a conversation. “Speak with your loved one about how they are feeling and encourage help-seeking by way of the many resources available,” she said.
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