Semantics FAIL.

I came across a blog that I really enjoy reading here: Livvy Jams.

I particularly like her section on political correctness. I am, after all, a teacher and we have a certain duty, I suppose, to keep the classroom as safe and sound as possible. However, I’m such a fence-sitter on the PC issue, though. As noted in the above blog, it’s not really the words we should be so worried about, but the emotions and beliefs behind them. If you’ve ever caught the South Park episode titled The F-Word, it’s just another example of how our language is constantly changing and that words are really only offensive if society lets them be offensive.

Anyway, the other day I had a professional development day and the topic was about working with students with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness in the classroom. Working with kids in corrections made this day pretty relevant, as we see A LOT of young people with some pretty serious depression or bi-polar issues, anxiety issues, and even some psychosis.

The topic of suicide came up about half-way through the day, and this is where I’m going to contradict myself. I learned that the term for someone who has attempted suicide, but did not die is FAILED SUICIDE. Seriously. Let’s think about that for a second. All your life you’ve dealt with depression, anxiety and general feelings of despair. You’ve thought about it, made a plan and then you actually attempt suicide. You don’t die. And now we label you as yet another FAILURE. Holy shit. Congratulations psychology community. Way to pour salt in that gaping wound. Your whole life you haven’t felt worthy or good enough, and now, you’re still a failure. Jesus H. Christ people, if there’s one term we should be focusing our time and effort on changing, I think it should be this one.

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~ by Andrea on March 28, 2010.

6 Responses to “Semantics FAIL.”

  1. Wow! Well firstly, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. And secondly, “failed suicide?” Really?

    My bloggy pal Miss Banshee, herself bipolar, talked about suicide in her blog once, and I put it forth that sometimes I think we just don’t understand the nature of what’s going on inside someone’s head when they’re suicidal. They ~already~ feel like a failure. That’s part of what makes them want to commit suicide in the first place. They feel like they’re failing the people they love, themselves, society, etc. There’s absolutely no sense in using the word “failure” to help them reconcile something which, in all fairness, they often did to try and relieve themselves and their loved ones from more pain.

    Ugh. This whole thing makes me irk.

    Here’s the blog I was talking about.
    http://missbanshee.typepad.com/missbanshee/2010/02/the-cruel-joke-of-the-sad-clown.html

    Otherwise, lots of interesting material here. Cheers!

  2. I tweeted about this and lots of followers want to know: who’s using this term “failed suicide?” What is their professional background (you mentioned the psychology community)?

  3. Well, I’ve been looking into it myself–this was a health professional who works with youth here in Atlantic Canada. She did mention they’re trying “to implement a new term” when she was mentioning all of this–and she was equally perturbed by the terminology. I think she said they are starting to use “incomplete” or something to that effect. I’m not a mental health worker myself, I just happen to work with some similar clientele. I haven’t found much online about the term itself…which makes me REALLY HAPPY actually. Hopefully it’s already antiquated and no one is actually actively using it. I just don’t know why she would have, if that’s the case….

  4. I’ve seen it used, I’m just not sure why it’s considered more PC than “attempted.”

    Anyhow, thanks for the prompt reply.

  5. I also found this blog:
    http://drdeborahserani.blogspot.com/2010/03/importance-of-proper-media-coverage-of.html
    which details some of the media’s coverage of suicide–it also mentions the inappropriate use of the words “failed” “completed” or “successful”.

  6. Thanks. I posted it on my Twitter feed. This issue got lots of attention. 🙂

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