Use of Language and Stigma

Removing Stigmas and Educating the Public

Suicide is a sensitive, difficult and confusing topic. When discussing suicide, whether as individuals or in the media, let us use language that promotes understanding and removes the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.

A quick guide for discussion of suicide in our daily lives is:

• Use “to die by suicide” rather than “commit suicide”
• Use “suicide attempt” or “nonfatal suicide attempt”
• Use “completed suicide” rather than “successful suicide”

Responsible reporting by the news media is important in educating society about mental illness and suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides a resource which includes Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide developed by a group of international professionals including journalists and news organizations.

AFSP Reporting on Suicide

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide – PDF

Theresa Sullivan, a long time suicide prevention advocate and member of the Tommy Fuss Team, recently published an article which she discusses recent (January 2014) reporting on suicide and recaps the AFSP’s standards for appropriate reporting. Click here to read the article.