A letter signed by Stephen Fry, Will Young and Sadiq Khan and 127 others is urging journalists to stop using the phrase “commit suicide”.
The letter which was signed by 130 celebs, authors, politicians and community leaders is calling on journalists to stop using the terms “commit suicide” when writing about suicide.
Along with Stephen Fry, Will Young and Sadiq Khan, Fearne Cotton, Ed Balls and DJ Lauren Laverne have signed the letter urging media outlets to “portray suicide in ways which reflect our modern understanding of this phenomenon.”
The letter was released on 10th September, which is the World Suicide Prevention Day.
The letter calls for alternatives to be used, such as “died by suicide” as “committing suicide” suggests that suicide is “either a sin or a crime, or both.” Suicide has not been a crime in the UK since 1961. The letter also suggests that “committing suicide” also implies, “that to take one’s own life is a selfish, cowardly, criminal or irreligious act, rather than the manifestation of extreme mental distress and unbearable pain.
Each year over 6000 people in the UK die when they take their own lives – and worldwide this number is a shocking 800,000 people per year.
Reaching out to editors the letter states, “The language and images we see and hear in the media naturally shape our understanding and view of the world. This is why journalism will always be so important – we are influenced by the kinds of stories you choose to cover, the language you use in those stories, and the images that are chosen to illustrate them. This places an enormous burden of responsibility on editors, reporters, photographers, sub-editors, producers, presenters and all of the other people engaged in bringing us news, editorial and comment”.
THEGAYUK.com has updated its style guide and adopting the suggestion by TalkingSuicide.co.uk to change the language it uses and will no longer use the term “commit suicide”.
The Samaritans is available 24 a day on telephone number 116 123 if you are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from depression or anxiety or just need to talk.