Suicide. It’s one of the most sensitive, difficult topics to discuss. But, because it is the ninth leading cause of death in North Dakota and the research continues to evolve, it’s important to bring it to the table.
That being said, there is a right and a wrong way to talk about it.
Sam Christopherson, Dakotas Area Director with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, tells us the first thing to remember is, it’s a health issue.
She explains that the phrase committing suicide needs to be a thing of the past, replaced with “death by suicide” or “someone died by suicide”.
Christopherson adds, talking about suicide attempts as “successful” or “unsuccessful”, not only is unnecessary but implies judgment. That can be replaced with “death by suicide” or “attempted suicide”, and a survivor is best described as someone “with lived experience”.
She says by changing the language we use, we can change the culture surrounding suicide and mental health.
“People don’t commit diabetes. People don’t commit heart disease; people don’t commit cancer. And this is a health issue. If you break a bone, you wouldn’t just stay home and not let people know. No, you would go into the hospital, you would have surgery, you would get medicine,” Christopherson explained.
“It’s the same thing with our mental health. We go see a trained professional when we’re not feeling like ourselves.”
Christopherson says she still sees a stigma around discussing suicide, but she says people are at least talking about it now more than ever before.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “Talk” to 741741.