LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Suicide is a sensitive topic and 8 News Now brings you information and resources as best we can.
The Office of Suicide Prevention held a seminar this week offering advice on how to report on suicides. During the training, they went over ways the topic can be covered differently.
You might hear friends and family say a person “committed” suicide, but experts advise media to use terminology that describes a death “by” suicide.
It is language that is slowly evolving, according to Emma White, with the Office of Suicide Prevention.
“Suicide is not a crime,” she said.
White also shared some statistics during the seminar.
Reporters learned that 132 Americans die by suicide each day. In Nevada, there is one suicide every 14 hours.
It is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 8 to 44 in Nevada.
“Sadly, we are starting to lose kids at the ages 8, and 7 in Nevada,” White said. “They may not know what suicide means but they know life and death.”
When a well-known person dies by suicide, there is curiosity as to how they did it. While detailed descriptions do get reported, experts recommend against it.
“Giving those specific details can impact those who have lost someone or have thoughts of suicide,” White said.
When it comes to news that impacts the community, suicide is among of the most sensitive topics for news organizations.
“We don’t want to give a road map to do the same,” White said.
It is not just the media that can help portray things differently, experts said. Readers and viewers can start to understand that suicide does not discriminate.
“Suicide can impact people who have the most money in the world to no money,” White said.
Often, people fighting this battle think they are all alone.
“People who are talking about suicide are waiting for someone to notice,” White said.
Sensitivity is important. Language that puts the person first is preferred. For example, say “person thinking about suicide” instead of saying “suicidal.”
Experts believe those small changes in language can make a difference.
If you or anyone you know is thinking about suicide, call or text the national suicide prevention hotline at 988. Help is out there.