Let's Talk:

How We Talk About Suicide Matters

Words matter.

Let’s face it, suicide is a very difficult topic. And believe it or not, even mental health professionals struggle with how to talk about it. This is why it’s so important to bring the discussion of suicide into the open. The more we can talk about something, the easier those discussions become. We’ve learned that the words we choose to talk about suicide matter.

When it comes to talking about suicide, we’ve learned it’s better to say:


  • Died by suicide
  • Completed suicide
  • Ended his/her/their own life
  • Killed himself/herself/themselves
  • Suicide attempt

Not This

  • Committed suicide - it’s not a crime
  • Successful suicide
  • Failed suicide attempt

The Providence Center 24-hour Behavioral Health Emergency Line

Providence Center crisis clinicians provide 24/7 telephone assistance for adults and children in crisis.

Call (401) 274-7111

Individuals who take their own life:

  • Woman hiking through a forest in the countrysideAre in intense emotional and sometimes physical pain
  • Feeling hopeless with the belief that there is no relief in sight
  • Sometimes act on impulse, fueled by substances

We now know that suicide is a result of complex factors and most often has its roots in a treatable mental health condition. There is no single cause. When suicide is talked about safely and accurately, we can help reduce the likelihood of its occurrence.

We want to change how society understands mental health and suicide – because when we open up and connect with one another, talk saves lives.

For more information about suicide and suicide prevention please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; https://afsp.org/chapter/rhode-island

Downloadable Resources

Some content on this page was generously shared by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Are you a health care provider?

Being able to talk about suicide in a straightforward, confident way communicates to our patients and loved ones that it is okay to talk about suicide. This may increase the chance that they come to us when they need help. The more comfortable we can be talking about suicide, the more comfortable others may be in talking to us.  Then, we can connect people with the help that they need.

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