Suicide Squad

In terms of communication and marketing, an editor or a filmmaker understands the power of words and visuals used to entice the audience. They select texts and pictures which they think can pull in a maximum number of audience to their project. So far nothing wrong. But what about the usage of certain words, like suicide, that contentiously triggers a harmful attribute in people? Is it correct to use such words even then?

Rocksteady announces a new DC game: Suicide Squad

As the news about the new DC game by Rocksteady, Suicide Squad, was announced today, the term started to trend in upward of 40 thousand. Well, almost all the mention of the term in tweets were related to the game, it also spiked a concern about those with suicidal tendency and how the word "Suicide Squad" would impact such people.

There is much debate going on the issue of mental health and suicides after a spate of deaths of some well-known personalities in recent times. Celebrities like Kate Spade, chef Anthony Bourdain in the US last year, and actor Sushant Singh Rajput, his ex-manager Disha Salian, and two Bollywood and Bhojpuri actors dying by suicide recently steered the common consciousness of the society towards the topics like mental illness and suicide.

Growing discussion on mental health issues and suicide 

The social taboo associated with depression and other mental illness has long distanced people with such issues to talk about it much less get the treatment for it, forcing them to suffer in isolation. It is only when they take the extreme step that people around them notice it. But now as the focus on mental health is gradually increasing, more research is also being done to figure out what triggers people to take such an extreme step.

What triggers people to take the extreme step

Though there could be many factors that can lead a person to think about taking his or her own life, experts say that it's mainly some sort of trigger that pushes them to take the extreme measure.

Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide on june 14Instagram

It could be casually spoken words like "kill me", "shoot me", or gestures using hand like a gun, or words used in describing in the killing of oneself like "committed suicide", copy cat death, etc have been reported as triggers capable of pushing people to take extreme steps.

For example, according to one report, a Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, and an online game Blue Whale provoked many young boys and girls to take their life because the characters or the tasks in it pushed them to do such acts.

In these times, when people are spending more time online than interacting with real people, it is quite understandable that some of them would be heavily influenced by the online content and others might feel trapped there because in the real world they don't find enough encouragement to talk about their mental health issue.

Language matters

It is because of this, various health agencies have asked journalists to exercise caution when describing death by suicide instead of calling it "committed suicide."

Netflix was forced to edit the controversial suicide scene from acclaimed teen drama, 13 Reasons Why after news of a rise in suicides among young people in the US.Courtesy: Netflix

Health experts explain that the word "committed" signifies the culpability of the person who took the step as if he had the option of doing otherwise. On the contrary, such a person takes that drastic step because he/she feels that that was the only resort. And the last thing we ever should do is to blame the person who was so in despair that he took the step.

As have been reported in several cases that till the last day victims' family or friend couldn't gauge that the person was going through mental health issues and after they take the extreme step, they came to know, it makes it incumbent upon us to practice precaution when using such words that can invariably cause distress to people suffering from suicidal thoughts.