What words do you use to refer to suicide death?

Words Used to Describe Suicide

Words Used to Describe Suicide

Words used to describe suicide death is a very controversial topic today due to a large number of incidents.

What terminology would you use to refer to death by suicide ?

Words have Power: Choose Them Carefully

  • Died by suicide.
  • Completed suicide.
  • Committed suicide.

Actually, I don’t take offense when I hear the word committed. But I know many people do. In fact, I used that term  when I referred to my husband’s death in 2005. In reality, I didn’t want to believe it nor say it, but I used the term because that is how I had heard it said. At that time I was in too much pain to think about linguistics. Now, I can think more clearly about it.

Rising suicide rates have increased the awareness of suicide prevention and have caused many changes in the way people think and talk about it. I am more sensitive and usually say “died by suicide.”  I believe those are acceptable words used to describe suicide death.

I don’t use the words “committed suicide” any more, but let me explain why I think the word committed does make logical sense. Vocabulary.com states the definition as:

“If you’re committed to something, you’re pledged or obligated to do it.  You’re committed to your skydive — If you’ve already jumped out of the plane, there’s no turning back.”

Sadly, the suicide act can’t be undone.  Steve killed himself and he wasn’t coming back. His tormented mind felt obligated to perform the act to end his pain.   If I view it in this manner the word makes sense to me.

Now the present tense of the word, commit according to Merriam-Webster is:

To do (something that is illegal or harmful)

Even though we don’t use the word in the present tense, our society often associates the word in the past tense such as: committed murder, rape, robbery, or any other crime.

 I believe people take offense to having their loved referred to as a criminal or as someone who has committed a crime. 

Words Used to Describe Suicide Death

Another way I hear it said is: someone completed suicide. This sounds a little strange to me. When I think of the word completed I usually associate it with something that has been successfully finished. For example, she completed her homework, or test, or project. It has a positive meaning therefore I don’t use the word in this context.  I don’t believe there is anything positive in someone dying in an unnatural fashion by suicide.

We all need to learn how to be more sensitive with the language we use when it comes to suicide and grief. I don’t believe someone intentionally says any of those particular words to cause us more harm or suffering. As we move forward it is our job to educate them. For example, if a friend or an acquaintance uses, committed suicide or something else offensive then you should kindly ask them to say it differently. If they are not able to understand your emotions then perhaps you shouldn’t be in their company.

Overall, I wish those phrases were not a part of my vocabulary, but when I must use them, I say “died by suicide” or “took his life” or “killed himself.” You may totally disagree with me and that is ok. You are welcome as always to leave comments!

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Love and Light,

P.S.  I know some of you reading this have gone through your healing journey and feel that you are in a position to help others, but don’t know where to start.  You are in the right place: Start here at the Grief Healing LLC where you can be trained to become a certified grief healing coach.

Robin Chodak

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I am a woman on a journey of recovery after the suicide of my husband in 2005. It has been a long voyage, but I was able to create a new identity and find happiness again after much hard work. I hope that I can help you along this path, too.

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