I’m assuming that many of you have heard recently of the passing of fashion designer L’Wren Scott. Unfortunately, suicide has taken the life of yet another person. I chose to focus this week’s Mental Health Monday on two important issues that need to be addressed regarding L’Wren Scott’s death.
When we think of suicide, we think that we’re invincible; that it would never happen to someone we love or that it would never happen to someone like L’Wren Scott. The truth is, it can. I’ve experienced the lost of a friend at the age of 10 and some still think that a 10 year old never thinks of suicide. I’ve heard stories of people who lost a father, a mother and some still think that adults with children never think of suicide. We all think that celebrities like L’Wren Scott have it all and that they would never think of suicide. But they do. It doesn’t matter what your age is or how much you have, thoughts of suicide can and do happen. So we need to take a stand to make sure that when those thoughts do occur, we recognize them and we know what to do, before we lose someone else.
Commuting 45 minutes to school gives me plenty of time to listen to the radio and catch up on the news and what’s trending. But, I was extremely bothered by the poor reporting of L’Wren Scott’s death. How many times have you heard or even said “committed suicide”? I hear it all the time and before I became educated and informed about suicide, I used to say it too. So now whenever I hear “committed suicide” it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. By stating something as simple as “committed” it’s implying that a person has committed a crime. Suicide is not a crime. Also commonly heard is “killed themselves”. Stating something like that implies that that a person is a killer. That person is not a killer, that person was fighting a battle within themselves. Instead, say that this person has “taken their own life” or “took their own life”. That way, you’re not implying that the person was a killer or committed crime, you’re simply stating a fact.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a great resource for more information and facts about suicide and prevention. They have an entire page specifically for the media, so that they know how to report on a suicide. News organizations need to be more educated and informed about how to report on suicides, it’s a public health issue and the public needs to know about it. You take a look at the page here and AFSP also provides a handy dandy two-page spread with recommendations on reporting a suicide.