The Stigma Around Suicide

Joel Kaskinen
2 min readAug 18, 2020

I hate how effortlessly and casually we all say “I’m gonna kill myself” or “shoot me” or “I’m gonna slit my wrists” or anything of the sort. I hate that shit.

I’m guilty of it too. In fact, I used to say stuff like this all the time. Too much. But not anymore. I’m realizing how insensitive it is to do so. I’m realizing the impact of our language and words on those around us. I can’t believe I’ve never thought about this before.

It’s disgusting behavior and it perpetuates the stigma associated with talking about suicide in a real and authentic way.

I was talking about my experience with Alex’s death the other day. I was telling someone about the trauma I was facing. The PTSD I’m living with daily. The depression that smacks me across the face and drags me through the mud.

This person kept referring to the whole experience as “the accident”. I got so furious. I’m still furious.

This was no accident. This was purposeful. This was a choice. This was the result of hurt, pain, and a cocktail of other demons like chemical imbalances and drugs.

It makes me so upset that no one around me can talk about what it actually is. Suicide. Why can we still not say this word in our society? Why is it taboo to talk about mental health, battles with addiction, self-harm? The stigma around these things are still very real. But, honestly, fuck that.

Suicide is real. Self-harm is real. Mental health is real. Addiction is real. People battling this stuff are real. And the pain, hurt and sadness they feel are very much so real. The shame and guilt they carry, that’s real too.

I’ve been told that University administrators asked other professionals not to share that Alex died by suicide. Because apparently it hurts us in some way to tell the truth. Either that or they’re too ashamed to speak our truth. Maybe it’s that they feel guilty. Honestly, I hope so, but I know better than that.

I believe that the real reason we’re not talking about suicide and Alex’s death (or the other two in the last year) is because the men in administration are too fragile to show emotion. Too fragile to talk about mental health challenges. Too fragile to say what really happened. Too fragile to utter the word suicide.

It’s disgusting. This behavior perpetuates behavior that carries stigma and shame. This behavior ultimately dictates the behaviors of our staff and students. If they can’t say the word suicide, how are we supposed to feel comfortable saying it? Oh wait, that’s exactly what they want us not to do. Fuck that. I will say it. I will speak Alex’s truth. I will speak my truth. I will speak our truth. I need everyone to know how hard this is, but more importantly how real this is and how normal it is to feel this way. I need everyone to know the harm they’re perpetuating by not saying it.

Suicide. Start talking about it. It may just save a life.