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Suicide and the Importance of Words

By Regina Vogt, LISW-S

September is Suicide Awareness Month.  Fortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness has decreased over the years as many public figures have begun speaking openly about their mental health struggles.  It is important to check in with our children on a regular basis regarding their emotional state.  Studies have shown that discussing suicide does not increase the likelihood of an individual attempting suicide; rather, acknowledging and talking about suicidal thoughts can help to reduce those thoughts (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 2019).  When discussing suicide and mental health, it is important to be thoughtful with our word choices; we may be unintentionally using language that perpetuates negative stereotypes of individuals with mental illness.

Source: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:

If a child you support discloses thoughts of suicide, it is important to ensure that they have the support they need.  Help the child connect with their doctor or mental health therapist to share concerns.  If you’re concerned that the child is in immediate risk of suicide, call 911 or Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) at 513-636-4124.  Individuals in crisis can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “TALK” to 741741.

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