Finding the words
While suicide rates have decreased since the 2000s, three people die by suicide every day in Quebec. It is estimated that each loss impacts about 20 people, including painful grief for some. With so many people affected by suicide, it is not a coincidence that this reality inspires some authors, directors and musicians to focus on the subject.
While stories featuring characters dealing with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts may be perceived as touching and genuine, they can also be upsetting and distressing for some people. There is a risk that some people who identify with the character or suicide content may also take their life (known as copy or contagion suicides).
In Western societies, suicide is increasingly depicted in fiction and often sensationalized. The scenes are longer and more detailed than before. Because suicide can affect people in different ways, it is recommended to consider at the beginning of the creative process whether talking about it is necessary. If it is, how should it be addressed in a respectful and preventive way? The idea is not to create a taboo, but to choose the right way of addressing and talking about suicide. A better understanding of suicide and the related myths and risk factors can also make a work of fiction more safe and realistic.