Talking about suicide

Mindframe provide guidance on:

  1. the preferred words to use when talking about suicide
  2. providing help-seeking information
  3. appropriate media reporting of suicide and mental illness

Information on each of these is provided in this article.

Preferred language when talking about suicide

Presenting suicide as a desired outcome‘successful suicide’, ‘unsuccessful suicide’‘died by suicide’, ‘took their own life’
Associating suicide with crime or sin‘committed suicide’, ‘commit suicide’‘took their own life’, ‘suicide death’
Sensationalising suicide‘suicide epidemic’‘increasing rates’, ‘higher rates’
Language glamourising a suicide attempt‘failed suicide’, ‘suicide bid’‘suicide attempt’, ‘non-fatal attempt’
Gratuitous use of the term ‘suicide’‘political suicide’, ‘suicide mission’refrain from using the term suicide out of context

Source:  Mindframe,,  July 2021

What sort of help-seeking information should be included?

  • two support services that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • provide direct links to services in online content
  • include information around at least one online support service or forum
  • other service contacts where people can get information
  • include relevant information to the particular content, e.g. demographic, state or cultural diversity.

The Mindframe Support Services information card can be downloaded here.

Useful resources

Talking about mental ill-health

Mindframe guidance – Communicating about mental ill-health

Mindframe guidance – Communicating about suicide Mindframe guidelines – Reporting suicide and mental ill-health:  A Mindframe resource for media professionals