An Open Letter to Those Who Misuse the Phrase “I’m Going to Kill Myself”

With this week being National Suicide Prevention Week, I wanted to bring attention to one of my biggest pet peeves: people casually saying “I’m going to kill myself”, “That makes me want to kill myself”, or any other version of the phrase.

I hear people say this all the time in regards to their Wi-Fi not working or for having a lot of homework. I don't think most people are even aware that they're saying it or notice when other people say it. Maybe I'm more conscious of people using the phrase because I have personally been affected by suicide multiple times throughout my short life.

All of the people I've known who have taken their own lives did not do it because of their Wi-Fi or their homework. They did it because they had demons that they could not beat. That had walls they felt like they could not climb over. They were all going through things that most of us cannot or will not ever understand.  Using the phrase "I'm going to kill myself" in day to day, casual conversation, trivializes the seriousness of suicide.  

I want people to stop using this phrase in regards to a minor issue that doesn't actually make them want to end their life. I want them to stop using it because it should not be taken lightly when someone is actually contemplating suicide. In no way do I wish to disregard anyone’s issues, big or small.  However, this particular set of words should not be used in light situations as the literal meaning is very severe. This phrase needs to be easily recognizable as sincere in serious situations where one is seeking out help.

In recent years, we have worked together as a society to refrain from using words such as “retard” and “gay” altogether or outside the appropriate context. As a society, we have tried to stop using these words inappropriately because they are politically incorrect and are offensive. I think it's time we do the same for “I’m going to kill myself” or “This makes me want to kill myself.” Those who have been directly affected by suicide, myself included, get very offended when these words are thrown around so nonchalantly. Whenever these words are said, it should be something that needs to be taken completely seriously.

Awareness needs to be raised about the misuse of this expression because self-harm is not a joke. It should not be an automatic response you utter when you break a nail, see something on TV you dislike, or run out of milk. It should be used when someone needs help; when someone feels like they are being overpowered by their demons and cannot get over the walls in their way.

All I ask is to please be more aware. Be more cognizant of yourself and others using this phrase. You never know who is around you that could be offended by you using the saying carelessly. Suicide is neither casual nor a joke.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 911 immediately or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

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