Important Terminology When Referring To Suicide

The past two events we coordinated w the the Ambrogi’s & Hilinski’s, where parents talked abt the unfathomable/unexpected loss of their child to suicide, & then the last hero story shared by Sarah Travis where she spoke abt the suicide of her grandfather compelled me to write this next post.


If you looked at our Stories in the past 24 hrs, the latest stats show that the # of ATTEMPTED suicides, by minors, vs 10 yrs ago has doubled. One hot topic when it comes to suicide is the verbiage we use.  The most common one that rolls off our tongues bc we’ve heard them so often are “committed suicide” & “took their own life.”  The folks who are against these terms (for which I am one), point out that they place culpability in the hands of those we lost.  Committed most often goes w the term crimes. Taken ones life often indicates that a person had a very solid choice & rationally chose one option – to die, over another – to live.


This is not an easy topic to discuss, but I must…bc we are losing ppl in record #’s & even the attempts, where we don’t lose ppl, are climbing at alarming rates.


What was clear in the Ambrogi’s story & the Hilinski’s story – as well as countless others I hear, is that there was no indication that these young men wanted to die. In Kyle – there were periods of depression where he was confused & lost but he would call & answer phones & try to figure out (like he had everything else in life), what was going on.  In Tyler, he’d just come back from a great fam vacation, HE was the one who would often take a teammate to therapy. Then…both were gone.


Though I never attempted, I know that my ideations came out of “nowhere.” I wasn’t in a sad state. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at the time. Instead, I felt error messages in my mind, almost the opposite of “survival mode” – where these messages, on repeat in my head, were telling me to swallow my bottle of pills. Do we not see a pattern that in MANY (ok not all), but MANY of the cases surrounding ideations & suicides, that there seems to be an uncontrollable loss of rationalization, & that error msgs that are of an “anti survival” direction, take us over?


Yes we need to be cognizant of the terms “committed” & “taken” bc they put unfair culpability on the ones we lose. We don’t say someone “committed cancer” when the bad cells take over. But perhaps more importantly, & the reason I’m sharing this opinion, is that using those terms puts unfair SHAME on those who have lost their loved ones – the ones we need to open up & talk about it. 


If we continue w this shaming through the verbiage, aren’t we limiting our ability as a society to have open discussion & to find solutions? Every time I make a conscious effort to talk about suicidal ideations at a #SameHere event, there is a hush in the crowd. At the same time, I have gotten feedback from two schools that lives were saved BC specifically we talked abt the topic & students knew what to look for & how to ask for help. We can’t be afraid of this topic & one of the ways to get away from being afraid is to remove the shame associated w it. Died by suicide, lost to suicide are both way better options that will help eliminate shame & encourage more & more loved ones to open up, so we can share & get to the bottom of this important issue. 

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