Blogging On Suicide: A Resource

Suicide is a tragically common event. Behind every death by suicide is a story and it’s often a story that needs to be told. How the story is told matters. Some headlines in newspapers are not always friendly. They are often stigmatizing and sensationalized. Others have published to provide guidance to journalists.

In the blogging community we have the unique opportunity to use our organic reach to tell the stories that matter to us. How we use words around suicide can have an impact. Bloggers have a voice to be a force for positive change.

From the social work perspective I had the privilege of writing “Let’s Talk About Suicide: #LanguageMatters” with Dr. Jonathan Singer. We reviewed how words around suicide can effect clinical care. The simplest example I can give is saying that one does not “commit” suicide, somebody “dies by suicide”.  Committing suicide further stigmatizes and criminalizes the act.  This matters not only on a one to one level but a larger level. The media and social media also needs to measure their response to suicide. That language and how stories are crafted can have both a negative and positive impact on our audience.

BloggingOnSuicide.Org provides another unique perspective for those who generate their own content from the ground up.  Suicide Awareness Voices of Education have created this wonderful document that not only focuses on language but focuses on critical questions to ask before and after publication. If you are a blogger that has or will write about suicide, please click on the image below to view the resource.  As bloggers we have a unique opportunity to change how stories about suicide are told…





One thought on “Blogging On Suicide: A Resource

  1. I totally appreciate the sentiment, but “dies by suicide” really sounds awkward. “died of suicide” is similarly awkward, and “died by their own hand” sounds a little too much like a line from a play by Shakespeare.

    The worst thing about “died by suicide” is that it sounds redundant– if they didnt die, it wasnt suicide, it was attempted suicide (I havent even looked up an alternative to “attempted.” I wouldnt choose “failed,” for the same reason I would avoid “succeeded”.)

    “Took their own life” might be too euphemistic for some journalism, although it doesnt mean anything else; its one word removed from “suicide.” It depends on the required tone of course. I agree we should get away from “committed,” but I hope we can still find a better turn of phrase.

    The advantage of a better phrase is simple: the less awkward it is, the larger the number of people willing to switch to it. Not every journalist cares about the subject of their reporting, or even if they sound like they do. But im not in favor of further stigmatizing anyone thats not around to speak of it– thats bad form whether youre writing a paper or just speaking casually about someone you used to know in school.


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