If you're taking the time to read this post, I would like to ask you to go one step further and truly take my message to heart. We must change the way we talk about depression and suicide in order to change the way we think about it with the hope that we will change the way we treat those afflicted and the way we treat the illness.
Suicide is the result of an illness. We need to talk about it the same way we would talk about cancer or a heart attack.
To say that my dad committed suicide would imply that he had a choice and that it wasn't the result of an illness. We can remove the judgement from that statement by saying, "I lost my dad to suicide" or "My dad died from suicide."
By changing the way we talk about it, we remove the shame that is often associated with depression and suicide which could lead to more people seeking help. In doing this we also have the potential to create an environment where more people feel comfortable in openly discussing the perils of this illness.
In addition to changing the words we use, we need to also become more conscientious of removing phases such as, “I’d kill myself” or “I want to shoot myself” as a way to make light of a difficult or unpleasant experience. We never know who might witness these statements and whether they have been impacted by suicide. It may seem like a harmless phrase said to lighten the mood but for someone who has lost a loved one to suicide it is a painful reminder of their loss.
I have realized that this simple change in the phrases I use is not obvious to most people and it does not readily change the way others speak. Over the years I have felt compelled to speak up and ask the people around me to consider changing the words they use and on multiple occasions I have approached professors and church leaders asking them to be more considerate of the pain one feels after losing a loved one to suicide and to please not joke about killing yourself as way to lighten the topic being discussed.
It can feel uncomfortable to raise these points with others, but I’ve learned true growth never comes from remaining comfortable. I would like to challenge all of you to speak up and help change the way we talk about depression and suicide. Below is a list of common phases often used when discussing depression and suicide. Please review them and consider helping others to gain insight on speaking in a way that is more considerate and respectful.
Phrases that Perpetuate the Stigma
A successful suicide vs attempted │ He is choosing to feel that way │ She chose to commit suicide │ He committed suicide │ He killed himself │ She gave up/she chose the easy route
Phrases Focused on the Illness
A completed suicide vs attempted │ He is struggling with depression │ I lost her to suicide │ He died from suicide │ Depression caused his death │ She lost her battle with depression
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
Please support our mission by sharing this post with friends and family. A simple share from you could make all the difference for someone else.
Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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