Suicide: A conversation that needs to happen more

Feb. 1, 2016

Eleanor Sturt
esturt@uccs.edu

The U.S. suffers from 40,000 suicides a year.

Colorado is in the top five states in the country in this category, with 20 in every 100,000 people successfully committing suicide a year.

These numbers are too high.

As a country we are doing something wrong. Why is suicide not addressed by more people?

Death is a strange concept and the way we treat it here in America is abnormal compared to other countries. We have no set way to mourn, while some countries take time out of their lives to lament the deceased.

Other countries have days to celebrate the dead. The U.S. has no such customs.

We even avoid using the word “dead.” We use idioms like “passed away” to avoid saying the word “died.” We are so afraid of death, we can’t even bear to say the word.

The same applies to suicide.

When there are press releases about people committing suicide, the term is avoided, stating that they “passed away abruptly” or skirting the fact all together. This can be to provide sensitivity to the family and friends of the victim.

Respect to the family and friends of the deceased is needed from media, because people are the source of information. If you burn those bridges, you are out of a source.

But how does one talk about suicide to the public without offending those affected?

I decided to push past personal embarrassment in writing this, but more importantly, comfortability, because this subject is important.

Suicide needs to be talked about more often, but the sensitivity around the subject makes the conversation of suicide difficult.

I’ve had multiple friends express to me they either have or had thoughts of suicide. One is afraid to be home alone with knives. Another would have gone through with it if it wasn’t for a coworker nagging them to come to a party.

These conversations are never comfortable. They can be emotional, awkward and cynical, but they are always extremely uncomfortable.

Americans like to be comfortable. We don’t like situations that test our limits or are controversial to our views. We like safety and consistency.

But uncomfortable conversations about suicide need to happen, claims need to be stated and solutions need to be made.

There are arguments about political issues like immigration and human rights, but there are none about
suicide.

Suicide is a problem that needs to be fixed, but first we need to show that it is a problem.

People gladly talk about presidential candidates, women’s rights and racism, but the conversation of suicide is almost unheard of.

It shouldn’t be like that.

Get out of your comfort zone and talk about suicide with friends and family. For such a huge phenomenon, it shouldn’t be this taboo.

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