Language Matters: Committed Suicide vs. Completed Suicide vs. Died by Suicide

Language Matters: Committed Suicide vs. Completed Suicide vs. Died by Suicide

Written by on September 21, 2017 in All Posts, Misc, Suicide, Terminology with 126 Comments

People in the suicide prevention field discourage the use of the term “committed suicide.” The verb “commit” (when followed by an act) is generally reserved for actions that many people view as sinful or immoral. Someone commits burglary, or murder, or rape, or perjury, or adultery, or crime – or something else bad. Suicide itself […]

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How to Navigate Confidentiality and Contact with Family After a Client’s Suicide

How to Navigate Confidentiality and Contact with Family After a Client’s Suicide

The ethical and legal obligations of confidentiality remain after a psychotherapist’s client dies, but how much? There is a lot of confusion around this. Here, I address what therapists can say or do with the client’s family while honoring the client’s confidentiality. First, be warned: I am not a lawyer, so my opinions represent a […]

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“What Stops You from Killing Yourself?”

“What Stops You from Killing Yourself?”

I advise my students to ask their suicidal clients, “What stops you? What stops you from killing yourself?” Some are horrified. They see this almost as a dare, as if they are saying to a hurting, suicidal person, If you really wanted to kill yourself, you would have done it already. What stops you? To […]

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Speaking of Suicide … Within Limits

Speaking of Suicide … Within Limits

I don’t want to encourage people to kill themselves. I also don’t want to give advice on ways to die by suicide, or to advertise the supposed virtues of suicide. Can you blame me? Some people do blame me. Hundreds of people have submitted to this website comments that could be construed as pro-suicide. And […]

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Would an Anti-Self-Harm Oath Reduce Veteran Suicide?

Would an Anti-Self-Harm Oath Reduce Veteran Suicide?

Veteran suicide is a national tragedy. Every day, 20 veterans kill themselves. The veteran suicide rate is more than double that of the general population (35.3 vs. 15.2 per 100,000). (Those stats and others are available [simple_tooltip content=’VA Suicide Prevention Program: Facts about Veteran Suicide. July 2016′]here[/simple_tooltip].) Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican veteran from Florida, […]

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“If You Take Meds for Mental Illness, Do Not Feel Ashamed or Weak”

“If You Take Meds for Mental Illness, Do Not Feel Ashamed or Weak”

If you take psychiatric medications – or want to – these words written by a dear friend of mine, MaryElizabeth, might help you: I feel compelled to say this. If you take meds for mental illness to help you stay alive, or just as importantly, to move from surviving to thriving, do not feel ashamed or weak. […]

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Why I Came Out of the (Suicide) Closet

Why I Came Out of the (Suicide) Closet

What will people think of you? What will people say about you? Some people asked me these questions when I told them I was publishing an essay in the New York Times (“A Suicide Therapist’s Secret Past”) about a very dark time in my life when I made a suicide attempt. I can’t really blame them. […]

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Can “13 Reasons Why” Really Trigger Suicides?

Can “13 Reasons Why” Really Trigger Suicides?

I don’t really want to read one more thing about suicide in 13 Reasons Why, let alone add to the mix. But I think it’s necessary. Many articles and essays I read about the show are based on emotion, without acknowledging the very well-researched phenomenon of suicide contagion. The more that people understand the facts about […]

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When a Suicide Prevention Hero Dies by Suicide

When a Suicide Prevention Hero Dies by Suicide

Untold thousands, maybe even millions, of people embraced Amy Bleuel’s symbol of passionate resistance against suicide: a simple semicolon. Tattoos, jewelry, and art feature the period floating above a comma, not for punctuation, but for an expression of hope.  That delicate punctuation mark, Amy would tell people, meant that the writer still had more to say. […]

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“When Hope is Gone Just Hang On”: More Songs Against Suicide

“When Hope is Gone Just Hang On”: More Songs Against Suicide

“Sad songs,” the line goes, “say so much.” And there are thousands of them. Many sad songs intensify a melancholy mood; some even extol suicide as a solution. Fewer and farther between are the songs that, while acknowledging the intense pain that fuels suicide, offer hope, encouragement, or inspiration to stay alive. In an earlier […]

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