It’s not uncommon, today, to hear that someone has “committed” suicide.
You’ll see it being used by the media, doctors, emergency services and by the general population.
“Committed suicide” is a term we have used for decades, as suicide used to be illegal. For some reason, it’s a term that is proving difficult to remove.
Essentially if a person “commits” suicide, it means that a person has chosen to and has successfully ended their own life.
While suicide is a very real thing, that really needs more awareness put into – “committing suicide” shouldn’t still be a real thing.
As a person who suffers from suicidal ideation and has had more suicide attempts than I can count, and as a person who has lost her father to suicide. The term “committed” suicide really bothers me. This, of course, is my own opinion.
When we talk about the word committed, the only way I could possibly understand how the word is attached to the act of suicide is because the victim “committed” to end their life, but no one seems to say that. Even if they did, you still could argue that a person may not even be in a healthy frame of mind when the act was completed.
I believe that people use the phrase because it is probably second nature to them. Even I used the phrase up until a year ago. It’s just what society has taught us.
If you attach committed to other phrases, you’ll see where the problem lies:
They “committed” a crime.
They “committed” a fashion faux pas.
They “committed” social (I hate this phrase) suicide.
Essentially, the term is usually negative, bar the odd positive phrases. It’s attached to things that mean that a person has done wrong or is being judged.
What people are saying when a person “commits” suicide, is reinforcing that they are criminals or perhaps something else judgemental.
But there is no crime in suicide and the only judgment should be as to why the person was left to feel that their life needed to end.
Why is the crime caused by the victim and not the events that led to their demise? Is this another way for society to victim blame?
My father for example, to me, was practically a saint or an angel in my mind. He was a good man. I am pretty certain he died because he was unhappy and because he felt like he had no other way out – and he wasn’t the kind to give up, (You can read my account of his story here).
In my own case, suicide was a way to end the pain. When your thoughts never end and you’re always tired. When no treatment works or no one seems to take you seriously (You can read my story here).
When you’ve done everything you feel is possible but the pain doesn’t leave, even after decades, suicide becomes attractive.
It gave me hope that I could rest, I just wanted a break, forever. To feel burnt out as a child is a pretty stressful thing. You’re life’s not started but you can’t wait for it to end.
But there is no crime in feeling. There is no pain in hurting. There should be a crime though in pushing a person to end their life (I.e bullying or a professional refusing help in crisis).
Stigma takes the lives of many, 99% of which are good people who have been let down by us, by society.
We should remember our lost for the good they bought to the world, even in the shortened life they lived.
No innocent person wants to be named a criminal. The only thing suicide victims could possible be guilty of, is suffering in a lot of pain.
Instead, let’s use phrases like “died by suicide“, “suicide victim” or “succeeded in suicide“.
The last thing someone with suicidal thoughts needs, is to feel guilty for their suffering.
Families of suicide victims, like mine, would rather our lost to be loved and remembered for the battle they fought, not the one they lost.
Suicide is tragic, heart-wrenching and painful to go through for the ones left behind.
The only way we can lower suicide rates is by learning, understanding and removing the damaging language.
Being supportive is in our language.
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