There has been a shift in Politically Correct language in the past few years. We, in the mental health field, no longer say “committed suicide”, but instead “died by suicide.” The change is subtle, but not without meaning.
When the therapy field changes language, it is usually to shift the way we are looking at treatment. For instance, what was formerly Multiple Personality Disorder, is now Dissociative Identity Disorder. We used to believe that the “self” was split so that personalities were created from the original and the treatment was to teach the main personality to control the others. When it was discovered that there was a better treatment, everything changed. Instead, we now believe that the “self” gets shattered, like a mirror, and the treatment is to bring all the pieces back into one whole so they no longer dissociate (fail to acknowledge) from one another. The change in language shows how we think of the problem as well as how we treat it.
With the word “commit,” we first think of crime, and second, think of blame. However, we know that suicide is an act done of desperation, to end a pain so terrible that the person can’t see another way to end the pain. We can’t blame a person for that desperation, or for looking for a solution, though we certainly make it out job to help them find another way out of the pain.
Suicide, in most states, is still a crime, but mental health is not related to law enforcement, so we are neutral parties, trained to focus on pain reduction, not crime.
To be able to commit a criminal act, the person must be “of sound mind.” We know that a person who would act in such desperation would not be likely to be sound of mind at that moment.
We, in the mental health field, look at suicide as the last desperate act of a person who needed to end severe pain. The shift to “died by suicide” takes away blame and guilt and states simply a cause of death.
If you are grieving a death, and want to seek treatment, please use the contact information below.
Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.