This column is all about the "S Word".

If recent events are anything to go by, I'm not sure whether I should issue a reader warning or not.

For some bizarre and/or PC driven reasons — and even with the freedom of speech — it would appear that nobody has the balls to use the word.

I am, of course, talking about suicide.


Why are we so reluctant to use that word?

When someone well-known takes their own life, it hits the headlines — there are stories, masses of tributes, their life and deeds recounted ... We're talking thousands of words — but not one of them is suicide.

Instead, what you get are cryptic tweets about opening up to loved ones and references to depression.

This secretly coded language serves only to add yet another layer of guilt to the act.

The death is described as "sudden" or "tragic" — both of which are certainly true — but if we are too ashamed to use the word suicide, how in the hell can we expect those contemplating such an act to open up to anybody.

The deed, itself, is treated by society like the lepers of old.

Hidden away in dark corners or swept under carpets, the mere mention of the word seems almost taboo.

Do we think we're protecting people by not using it? Is it contagious? Why doesn't someone tweet: "What a bloody waste"? Instead, we would rather tip-toe around the truth.


With our suicide rates being some of the highest in the world, how can we expect to fix the problem until we acknowledge it for what it is — suicide. Say it with me ... suicide.

In these days of almost over-sharing, we openly discuss domestic violence, rape, incest, paedophilia and child abuse, so why should the S word be any different?

If it became as much a part of our daily conversations as all of the above, then perhaps those struggling with the idea would feel a little more comfortable sharing their problems.
But we're too bloody busy walking on eggshells, and that's not helping.
Making thinly veiled references to depression isn't enough.

Surprising as it may be, not every suicide victim suffered from clinical depression, just as every clinically depressed person won't go on to take their own life.

Why aren't we talking about it as openly and robustly as we have assisted death (now being debated in Parliament), euthanasia, suicide bombers or abortion?

Keeping it tucked away in the shadows only adds to its perceived stigma.
No, the conversations may not be easy or pleasant but they are very necessary if we want to change things.

If we really want to help, we must prove that our desire for our loved ones to live is greater than their desire to die, but that can only happen when we have the courage to face the problem head-on. And that means some honest and frank communication.

All this cryptic sh*t achieves nothing when you're dealing with the S word.

Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.