Written By: James Stanyer on 30th August 2023All Professions Awareness
Language matters: Why we don’t say “committed suicide”.
Suicide is not a crime, it used to be, and still is in some countries. However, suicide is not a crime or a sin in the UK. You wouldn’t say a person “committed cancer”, you would say that they “died of cancer”. When it comes to suicide, we should say “died of suicide” as this avoids discriminating against a person who lost their battle against a disease.
Suicide is a consequence of an illness.
A moment of Truth:
2 years ago, I lost a very close friend to suicide. It took me a long time not to feel anger towards them. Grief from suicide is so different to any other grief. It was my journey of becoming a mental health first aider, that led me to see the illness and what it did. To see the signs I never saw, to hear the hints I never heard.
There is a term in botany (the study of plants) called girdling. This is where a trees roots are encircling the base of its trunk, choking off the flow of water and nutrients, and the tree is slowly dying. Nobody notices because it is invisible, below the soil… mental illness can be the same. The person that is ill, and the people around them, may not realise until crisis point is reached.
By spreading awareness of suicide, and breaking the stigma of mental illness, together, we can prevent more suicides, we can get help to those in crisis, we can protect our loved ones and each other at the very start, before crisis. It IS ok, not to feel ok, and you are never alone.
Zoe Josling – Clinical Advisory Manager and Mental Health First Aider YMS.