POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 85 Safe communication for suicide prevention Using language that is helpful and respectful encourages an environment free of stigma, where we can talk more openly and safely about suicide and its prevention. Words matter in a world where silence or insensitivity can make matters worse. The more we are open and safe in our communication, the more likely it is that people can offer or seek help. Put people first Using people-first language avoids stigmatizing words or phrases and emphasizes people while respecting differences and experiences, rather than referring to their actions, conditions, or diagnoses. People-first language: • People with (…mental illness, depression, addiction, etc.) • Person who has died by suicide • Person thinking about suicide • People who have experienced a suicide attempt Problematic language: • These/those people, the mentally-ill, the depressed, addicts, etc. • Suicide victim, suicidal, contemplators, attempters Helpful tips: •Wherever possible, avoid the use of labels and acronyms when referring to or addressing people. • Use neutral and inclusive words and phrases to respect people and their experiences. • Carefully consider the choice of words around the issue of suicide and people. Depending on the audience (context, preference or culture) alternative language may be appropriate. The term survivor (e.g. survivors of suicide loss, suicide attempt survivor) may not resonate with everyone.The phrase ‘people impacted by suicide’ is generally considered more neutral and inclusive. Other examples of people-first language • People bereaved by suicide • Person impacted/affected by suicide • People with lived experience related to suicide Use safe language It is important that language about suicide is careful and factual. When we replace problematic language with neutral and respectful language, we help shift how society reacts to and understands suicide. We can make the conversation about suicide safer. Safe language: • Die by suicide • Died by suicide • Death by suicide • Suicide attempt • Attempted suicide • Populations with higher rates of suicide • Populations with potentially high risk for suicide • Factors that may increase people’s risk for suicide • Social and economic costs associated with suicide Problematic language: • Commit suicide • Committed suicide • Successful suicide • Completed suicide • Failed suicide • Failed attempt • Unsuccessful attempt • Incomplete suicide • High-risk people/ populations/groups • At-risk • Vulnerable or susceptible • Those people/populations/groups • Burden of suicide The term ‘committed’ is stigmatizing as it implies someone is criminal or immoral or has committed an offence. Suicide is not a crime. It was decriminalized in 1972. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada (section 241) refer to die by suicide rather than ‘committed suicide’. Suicide is a tragic outcome of many complex factors with lasting impacts; it is never about success or failure. It is not something to achieve or finish like a task or project. (continued)