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How to Use the Right Words

Home 5 About Suicide Prevention 5 How to Use the Right Words
  • Be thoughtful and careful about how the words you use to talk about suicide and suicide prevention.
  • Say attempt suicide, not committed suicide. The term commit dates back to a time when suicide was a crime. Suicide is not a crime. In most cases, someone who attempts suicide is struggling with a mental health issue. Saying commit suicide may make a person feel like you are blaming them. It is better to say died by suicide or completed suicide.
  • Do not say a suicide attempt was successful or unsuccessful. Instead, say completed suicide, died by suicide, or attempted suicide so that it does not sound like death is a desired outcome.
  • Attempt survivors are people who attempted but survived a suicide attempt.
  • Suicide loss survivors are family and friends who have lost someone to suicide.

Resources on suicide-related language:
Language and Suicide from Everymind
Your Language Matters from the National Alliance on Mental Illness