Talk About Suicide to Erase the Shame of Talking About Suicide

July 16, 2012 Chris Curry

I'm talking about suicide, and I won't hold back. A friend of mine killed himself this week. He wrapped a noose around his neck and took his own life. I’m talking about it. And I’m not sugar-coating it. The statuses of those who knew him dominate my Facebook newsfeed, and I’m noticing that although everyone knows what happened, no one mentions it in writing. No one is openly talking about what took this young man away from us 30 or 40 years too soon (Understanding and Helping the Suicidal Person).

If We Talked About Depression, We'd Prevent Suicide

A friend of mine killed himself this week. I’m talking about suicide because talking about suicide is the way to erase the shame of talking about suicide.I wish I'd had the chance to talk with my friends about my depression and my suicide attempt. But I didn't know he was suffering. He didn't talk about his depression to me. He was a great guy. A superbly talented musician who would go any lengths out of his way to help a friend. He was a brilliant comedian and captured the attention of everyone in the room the second he walked in. But under the guise of this light-hearted, easy-going musician, lay a disturbed soul filled with a quiet sadness. A sadness that, perhaps, if talked about openly, could have helped to spare his life.

The stigma surrounding depression and suicide is still enormous. Although we claim to be moving forward when it comes to mental health, we, as a society, are still terribly frightened to talk openly about suicide. Which is odd, because most people know someone who has taken, or attempted to take their own life.

It's Us Versus Suicide: Let's Coax Suicide Out of the Shadow

When I attempted suicide about fifteen years ago, it was a taboo topic that was simply not talked about. I remember when I went back to high school after a few weeks off recovering from my overdose in hospital, I only told one or two people what had actually happened.

When a client comes into my office and mentions a previous suicide attempt, they say so with shame and extreme guilt. It’s almost as if we are all scared to say the word suicide.

So, what can we do about it? Just as in any therapy, the best solution is simply to talk about it. The more we talk about it, the more we hear about it. The more we hear about it, the easier it becomes for those feeling suicidal to reach out for help.

Feeling Suicidal Is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

Feeling suicidal doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you any less than anyone else. It signifies a plight that begs to be understood. All of our plights are different, but all are worth surviving.

Suicide can be prevented. And it starts with you.

Dedicated to the memory of Mikey. And to his friends and family, my thoughts are with you.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

The Completely in Blue website is here. Chris is also on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

APA Reference
Curry, C. (2012, July 16). Talk About Suicide to Erase the Shame of Talking About Suicide, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Chris Curry

July, 16 2012 at 5:31 pm

I wonder if part of it is because those of us who haven't felt such a way before (suicidal/depressed/etc.) just don't know how to talk to someone whose pains we can't understand. What can I say to them without belittling their experience? What is constructive? How do I let them know that they can talk to me without the somewhat cliche "I'm here for you"?
And on the other side, while worrying these things ourselves, how do we talk about such desperate feelings without making our kind, wonderful friends feel despair? How do you show tears to those who see you as positive and strong?
If we know that to some level, everyone hides unknown darkness in their hearts, how do we decide that our darkness is big enough to concern others? When I was young, I learned not to complain about anything, because every time I did (no matter large or small), someone would have some other, far more terrible story to tell. I knew the real explanation for it--that people start talking when someone else does--but I still felt that every time I complained, something terrible would happen to someone else, and that my complaints that paled so much in comparison should never have been let out.
I didn't understand at that time that perhaps my stupid complaint was what let someone else feel comfortable about discussing theirs, and I don't think it's an intuitive thing to understand while feeling woefully petty. Perhaps there's a better way to communicate.
Sorry for your loss.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Chris Curry
July, 17 2012 at 7:11 am

Thank you so very much for your insightful comment. You raise some excellent points.

Talking About Suicide | Surviving Mental Health Stigma Blog « Taking Another Breath
September, 20 2012 at 2:28 pm

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Accessing Psychiatric Care: Personal Failure or Personal Success? | Surviving Mental Health Stigma Blog
September, 29 2012 at 10:31 pm

[...] friend of mine passed away two weeks ago from suicide. I genuinely believe that if there wasn’t such a great stigma attached to seeking help, that he [...]

Tammy Dee Peshkepia
January, 22 2013 at 9:01 am

PEOPLE WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT COMMITTING SUICIDE,ARE DESPERATELY WANTING SOMEONE TO TALK TO THEM SBOUT IT. And when I was a crisis-line counselor for the Suicide Prevention Center, You could hear the relief in their voices immediately after I directly came out & asked ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT KILLING OR HARMING YOURSELF TODAY ???

January, 22 2013 at 11:14 am

Stigma and shame can come from the very professionals we seek help from. Being told my actions were 'selfish" when having disclosed a suicide attempt to a psychiatric intake nurse at a county clinic in upstate NY, only sent me backwards in my recovery and reinforced the shame. I do not believe unless you have seen this darkness that you can understand this darkness.
This does not mean that we cannot see into the heart of another human being and threat each other as we should, with respect and dignity.

January, 22 2013 at 11:33 am

My daughter died by suicide 14 months ago and I have never NOT said how she died. I honestly had no idea there was a stigma attached to suicide until a close friend of mine told me she was proud of me. I said for what? And she told me because of the way people are about suicide and the stigma there is about it. I said to her, really...I didn't know that. I figured out that I didn't know people were so negative about it because I'm not so I figured nobody else is either.
My daughter was one of those people that was always so "up" and positive about everything (at least that is what she showed the rest of the world). When she walked into a room she just lit it up with her bright smile and that awesome personality that she had. Her closest friends had no idea the hopelessness and sadness she carried around with her, I had no idea either and we were the best of friends, We were always together, daily. She hid it well.
It seems that the nicest most positive people that you meet are the ones that end up dying or attempt to die by suicide, These are the very people that the world needs more of. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't just the negativity, cruelness and ugliness world of the world itself that gets the best of these kind and loving souls.

February, 8 2013 at 4:11 pm

I think there's a lot of stigma surrounding suicide in Britain because until the 1960s attempting suicide was a criminal offence punishable by 2 years in prison. Coupled with our dreadful stigma towards mental health, which thankfully is changing, people just don't talk about it. There's religious stigma, too, people still believe they'll go to 'hell' if they kill themselves. Hospital staff aren't adequately trained either. My last suicide attempt was 3 or 4 years ago. I was wheeled into Accident & Emergency and the porter/nurse, whatever he was, shouted 'OVERDOSE!' so loudly that other patients were damn near falling out of their beds to get a look at me. It was horrible. I was left on a ward for the whole weekend and not one nurse came over to me or talked to me. I was left to go through the withdrawal symptoms (I'd taken all my antidepressants) alone. I didn't even see the duty psychiatrist.
When someone is contemplating killing themselves they are at their lowest ebb. It is quite literally a matter of life and death. Sometimes a suicidal person just wants you to sit with them, you don't even have to say anything, but when they talk, you just listen and try not to 'cheer them up' or say things like 'come on, it can't be that bad'. It IS that bad. But I find a lot of the time if you just sit and be with a suicidal person, they can make the decision to live, even if it's just for one more day. A suicidal person just wants to know that there is someone there who's not going to judge, belittle or try to dissuade them even if they do decide to end their life.

October, 23 2013 at 1:38 am

I suffer from major depression. Along with that I have very strong suicidal thoughts. I am not ashamed to express my disorder. But I have noticed the response I get from other people, including my close friends. I know others who bottle their feeling up and then it becomes a silent killer. I agree that talking about your feelings and about suicide are very important. Talking about it can save lives. Even my own. I believe that people need to be educated. Yes there are people who judge those with mental issues. I say shame on them not on me. Whether it's a situational response or genetic chemical imbalance, it's just like someone being told they have diabetes or heart problems. Do people judge cancer patients. No. People need to understand it is a disorder. It serious. In many causes it needs medical attention. Just like physical disorders.
The more one talks about it the more you help yourself and others. Others who are suffering silently will be more apt to open up and discuss their situation. There is so much encouragement when you know others are enduring the same thing.
I thank those who do not understand but listen and try to help.
If you suffer silently please seek help. You are worth it. You really are. If you know someone that does give them what they need. Attention. Even if you do not know what to say, don't ignore that person. Just be nice.
I know I do not need to be judged but need hugs.
Even the bible says to encourage the depressed souls.
You may never know the outcome of a kind word. You may just save a life.
My heart goes out to any who suffer or who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Ruth A.
June, 10 2014 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for not sugar coating it!

Bob Rich
June, 10 2014 at 10:01 pm

I'm a 59 year old man who suffers from major depression and has since my teens. I've probably been on every antidepressant these is. lol suicide has been over the years I've thought about. I've tried to overdose a couple of times but messed it up.
I'm also one of those that is up, I try help other people who are dealing with depression and suicide. Sometimes the pain is too much and I have to pull away before I fall into that dark hole, I often go into.
Thanks for sharing your article and your thoughts, I plan on sharing this on FB. Thanks again.

June, 11 2014 at 3:58 am

I'm really sorry for everyone's loss. I just think that it is a person's right to decide if they want to live or die. Live in the horrible hell that is going on or stop the pain and die. It is their choice. I celebrate with them whichever choice they make because the pain is gone. One day.

June, 11 2014 at 6:28 am

My husband committed suicide 2 1/2 years ago. He had alot of the same characteristics as your friend. He would do anything for anyone but not for himself. I agree that we need to be more accepting and open about mental illness. KUDOS to those of you that suffer and ate not afraid to talk about it! If you are honest with those who can help, including Dr's. This disease is treatable. I'm sorry for your loss and Thanks for dinging our attention to this matter.

June, 12 2014 at 12:23 am

There is so much deep-seeded stigma from those left behind when someone commits or tries to commit suicide. Sometimes it's easier being the doer than the one left behind. After learning my daughter wasn't sick during Christmas break; she'd taken an overdose of prescription pain killers after drinking beer with her friends. Her younger sister was told from a friend that, in fact, she tried killing herself. We were all traumatized when the story unfolded. When I heard about the attempted suicide there were so many things going through my head I sought out individual help for myself along with help for my daughters and the other teenage girl living with us. We all got something out of the counseling. My daughter is a survivor, Thank God! Unfortunately there were several family members who thought I over reacted and should not have sought help because it directed too much negative attention to my daughter. I still believe they're wrong.

June, 12 2014 at 6:10 am

I really like sentences about suicide is nothing to be ashamed..Because people exactly show me how bad person i am for this feeling :( I tell about my suicidal thoughts my friend and they started ignoring me and start saying about me i just want attention etc...Now I am alone,no one talk to me,even my mother give me feeling how stupid i am because this thoughts...I wanna feel better but i think i have no more power :/ I just wanted someone be with me and dont judge me

October, 12 2014 at 11:24 pm

Both my wife and I have lived with depression for years.
I left a good job to move closer to my family it was both our wishes.
But the job market is terrible in the south .
We had to move in with my parents because I don't earn enough
My wife has MS and can't work anymore yet this disability has bee denied
She is very depressed and has done a 180 on me.
I have never felt so sad. I think about ending it but I can't
I don't know what to do the move here almost killed me with stress
That putme in the hospital. All our money went to hospital bills
I feel the end is near.

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