Caitlin Coleman’s suicide attempt and subsequent coma resulted in nodes on her vocal chords and nerve damage to her arm–a hard way to go for a vocalist/pianist. Below, we discuss the way we use language in the context of suicide:
Caitlin: Now I feel like I’m at a really good, functional point in my life. Are there things I would change? Yes. Are there things that I’m still fearful of? Yes. But I want to speak to people, and I Googled suicide survivors, thinking I would talk to people like me, and that’s not [what I found]. It’s people whose families have been affected by it, which I think is still really important, but I just think people have so many averse reactions to it. They blame themselves but they also blame the victim, which is interesting. I think the use of the word ‘commit’ is also interesting, because it’s not like you do a suicide or you have a suicide. You have to commit suicide and it’s like you’ve committed a crime or a murder or a robbery.
Dese’Rae: That’s what the prevention community is trying to change. That’s the [societally] accepted terminology. Now they say that you ‘attempt’ and you ‘complete.’ And even for me, it’s ingrained. I say, “Oh, so and so committed suicide,” and it’s like, wait, you know?
If you’re feeling suicidal, please talk to somebody. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.