Safe messaging refers to the conscious avoidance of potentially harmful language when sharing information about suicide. Safe messaging is important because it works to ensure that communication about suicide does not increase the likelihood of individuals at risk considering or attempting suicide, which may occur due to unsafe messaging.
Guidelines for safe messaging include:
- Providing information on warning signs and symptoms and school, local, state, and national resources for suicide prevention
- Discussing both the struggles of the student’s life, as well as the positive aspects—emphasizing that the student was likely struggling with their mental health in ways that others may not have been able to see
- Avoiding sensationalizing, romanticizing, dramatizing or glorifying the suicide, such as by showing flags at half-mast, permanent memorials, or loved ones mourning
- Avoiding overly detailed or specific descriptions of suicide including the where it took place and the means used
Using “died by suicide” rather than “a suicide” or “committed suicide,” and “suicidal deaths” and “non-fatal attempts” rather than “successful” or “unsuccessful”