“Commit suicide” is clean and clinical. There are no cartoon characters or inappropriate emotional responses. It is clear, matter of fact, free of emotional valence. It neither condemns nor romanticizes. It describes what happened, and, importantly, acknowledges the autonomy of the person who did it without condoning the action—because my parents each made a decision. It’s a decision that I loathe, a decision I spent years of my life pleading with my mother not to make, one made under the influence of a pernicious mental illness that she worked incredibly hard to live with—but it was still her action.
Why the AP Stylebook’s rules on how to talk about suicide don’t work for me.