The Words We Choose

Sorrowful boy on the railwaySadly, a friend-of-a-friend recently experienced the tragic loss of her son. This young man, who was still in his late teens, died by suicide. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of his family following such an awful event.

When I heard the news, I went into research mode to learn more about suicide. This is the third teen I’ve known whose chosen to end their life. I also experienced the loss of a dear family friend in the same manner.

I was surprised to learn that the term “committed suicide” can be very hurtful. Committed means “to carry out or perpetrate (a mistake, crime, or immoral act).” Although one could argue that suicide does fall within this definition, it is an emotionally loaded word.

Many organizations, including Suicide.org, recommend that you use the words “died by suicide.”

After my reading, I looked at the news reports following Robin Williams’ suicide. Many of the headlines included the words “committed suicide.” Clearly this message of word choice has not reached mainstream media.

Today, think about the words you choose.