Language matters. Sometimes the words we use can be stigmatising, even if we don’t mean them to be. By choosing our words carefully, we can help break down the shame and stigma that surround suicide and encourage people to get help when they need it.
Many stigmatising phrases and ways of talking about suicide have been ingrained into everyday language. It’s ok to slip up from time to time, but if you find yourself not using the right language, correct yourself out loud. By showing that it’s important to change the words we use, you can turn the conversation into a positive learning experience for everyone involved.
The important thing to remember is that you are doing your best to offer a listening ear and support someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. Don’t avoid conversations because you are concerned that you may say the wrong thing. This conversation may stop someone taking their life. In addition to trying to say the right words remember to physically show you are listening to them too. Try to find a place to talk where you won’t be disturbed, put your phone away so you can engage with the person fully, try not to cut short the conversation to rush off to another meeting. Remember to take time for yourself after offering support to someone.
Remember, it’s OK to talk about suicide. In fact, it’s important. Bringing up the subject can be scary, but it can help save lives.