Content Warning: This article discusses suicide and contains examples of hurtful or outdated language sometimes used when discussing suicide. While this content might be triggering for those directly impacted by suicide, we believe difficult conversations around how best to discuss mental health in respectful and non-stigmatizing ways is imperative. If you are in a life threatening situation, please call +1 (800) 273-8255 or use these resources to get immediate help.
During my senior year of high school, a student two years younger than me died by suicide. The school was stricken with grief and wanted to do everything in their power to help the community overcome this loss. School was cancelled the following day, the guidance department opened their doors to anyone who wanted to talk, and a mass was held in his remembrance. It was the only thing that anyone seemed to talk about. Yet, just three weeks later, another student followed in his footsteps.
The school realized that they were not equipped to handle the situation and called in help from a few outside psychologists, who instructed them to not glorify the victim. They were told that talking about suicide in the wrong manner may only exacerbate the situation, a phenomenon known as the “Werther” effect. As a result, the school decided to be more tight lipped about the deaths.
While I am glad that there was no third victim, I still feel that the community could have benefitted from more closure. I want to explore how we as individuals could reframe the way we speak about mental health, and suicide in particular. Continue reading Is There a ‘Right Way’ to Talk About Suicide?