There are many complex factors that lead to someone feeling suicidal, so it is important to 'communicate about suicide' in a safe way. This is particularly important when communicating online, because the information you can reach tens of thousands of people extremely quickly. It is possible that some people, who already feel vulnerable, may engage in copycat suicide behaviour or may be negatively affected following exposure to suicide-related content online. Particularly when the content is extensive, exaggerates, or sensationalises suicide; repeats myths or misperceptions about suicide; or presents suicide in a positive or glorified way.

This page offers some general tips for communicating about suicide. This includes some things that are unhelpful, as well as helpful alternatives that you could use.

Don’t use words that describe suicide as criminal or sinful. This may suggest to someone that what they are feeling is wrong or unacceptable, or make someone worry that they'll be judged if they ask for help.

  • Don’t say “committed suicide”.
  • Don’t say that suicide is a “solution” to problems, life stressors or mental health difficulties.

Don’t use words that glamourise, romanticise, or make suicide seem appealing.

  • Don’t share, quote or the content of a suicide note or message.
  • Don’t 'post', share or include links to pro-suicide sites or forums. Don’t provide information about suicide pacts.

Don’t use words that trivialise or make suicide seem less complex than it really is.

  • Don't blame one event or imply the suicide was the result of a single cause, such as bullying or social media.
  • Don't say that suicide is a solution to a problem, life stressors or mental health difficulties.

Don’t sensationalise suicide.

Don’t use judgmental phrases which reinforce myths, stigma, stereotypes or suggest nothing can be done about suicide.

  • Don’t say suicide is for “cowards”, "a cry for help", "attention seeking" or “a selfish act”.
  • Don’t use stigmatising words such as “crazy”, “psycho”, “nuts”, “lunatic”, “deranged”, “defective”, “insane” or “abnormal”.
  • Don't suggest that if someone wants to end their life then there is nothing you could do.

Don’t provide detailed information about the actual suicide or suicide attempt.

  • Don’t provide information about suicide methods, the location of a suicide. Don’t acknowledge if that there have been a number of suicide acts at a particular location or “hotspot”.

Don’t describe suicide as a desirable outcome.

  • Don't use words or phrases such as “successful”, "unsuccessful” or "failed attempt".
  • Don't mention any positive consequences of suicidal behaviour that refer to suicide as a "relief", that the person is "finally at peace" or that suicide is "quick" or "painless".
  • Don't say a suicide was “achieved”, was “noble” or that it was a “brave act”.
  • Try to say the person “died by suicide”.
  • Indicate that suicide is complex and that many factors contribute to a person ending their life.
  • Include messages of hope and recovery (e.g. you can post links to videos or poetry which has content about hope and recovery).
  • Inform others that suicide can be prevented and include links to sources of help and websites that contain information about suicide prevention. Some examples include:
    • eheadspace
    • Kids Helpline
    • Lifeline
  • Tell others who might be thinking about suicide where and how they could get help.
  • Include information on factors that protect against suicide (e.g. engaging in meaningful activities and building and maintaining meaningful connections and relationships).
  • Indicate suicide is preventable, help is available, treatment can be successful, and that recovery is possible.

Was this helpful?

Current rating: 2.8 (179 ratings)