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Charlotte Rosario: Saying the Word "Suicide"

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Sometimes the things we avoid talking about are the things we need to talk about the most. Charlotte Rosario has this Perspective.

Growing up, I was familiar with but paid little attention to the word “suicide.” The term was always avoided at the dinner table or in class discussions. In the local papers, it would be masked by the words “sudden death” or “unexpected.” Suicide at most was regarded with an uneasy nod of the head, a somber and silent acknowledgement.

It was only when tragedy struck my life, and I lost my dad to suicide at age 12, that the word finally entered my vocabulary.

Reflecting on my dad’s life, it’s clear that he felt uncomfortable opening up about his mental health. The word “suicide” was a word he never dared utter aloud to a therapist or a loved one, yet it was a word he typed knowingly into the Google Search bar when he was ready to end his life.

Not only did stigma prevent my dad from getting support, it also created barriers for me. For two years after his death, I told no one—not even close friends—the truth of what happened, because I believed my dad’s suicide was something I should be ashamed of.


Perhaps there is a worry that talking about suicide is dangerous. But I’ve come to realize that this fear is exactly what perpetuates the stigma; suppressing conversations around suicide only alienates those in need of support.

The word “suicide” can be used as a positive tool. But to do so, we can’t leave it up to the media or Hollywood to dictate how we use it. Instead, we must proactively confront the word in our conversations with loved ones, using it to ask people how they are truly doing and if they need help. Let’s talk about suicide, because it’s how we end the stigma and save lives.

With a Perspective, I’m Charlotte Rosario.

Charlotte Rosario is a high school student and the Co-Chair of San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health Commission Youth Action Board.

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