Suicide is no laughing matter, so why do we joke that we’d rather kill ourselves?

A person commits suicide every two hours in the UK


“I would rather kill myself than sit in that lecture hall for two hours.” “I think I’ll top myself if I hear anymore about who Jessica pulled last night.”

We all say it. We use the phrase as a figure of speech. A way to dramatise the situation and as an emphasis to how seriously we don’t want to do something. It’s not meant to be serious. No one who says it actually wants to kill themselves. Or so we presume.

I have personally had two people in my life commit suicide.

Suicide is the most common cause of death in young men

One was a family member, who did not get the help she so desperately needed so instead decided that life was not worth living. The fact that her mental issues were never dealt with has led to other family members developing similar problems. It has resulted in me constantly fearing depression, always fighting to be happy and never quite trusting myself or others to not go down a similar downward spiral.

Another was a boy at uni, who I had only met several times but it’s safe to say I knew, but whose decision to end his own life rather than continue on living, shocked me as this was someone who I knew as bright, bubbly with everything ahead of him.

Suicide to me, is no laughing manner and something that I simply cannot talk about in such trivial terms.

Over 4,400 people take their own lives in England every year. More than 75 per cent of victims are male and it remains the most common cause of death for men under 35.

While we only ever say it in a light hearted manner, the frequency to which this phrase is used, greatly diminishes the seriousness of suicide. It trivialises the act, making it extremely difficult for someone experiencing suicidal feelings to voice their thoughts as it increases the likelihood of it been brushed aside as just another way of being dramatic.

The phrase can also be hurtful to those who have been left behind by suicide as it makes the act feel common place, something that occurs regularly in someones life when something doesn’t go their way, rather than the heart wrenching experience it is to lose someone through suicide. But this doesn’t go through our heads. We don’t stop to think how it might affect people, much in the same way we continue to say throwing yourself in front of a train is a selfish act.

Prevention of suicide is not something exclusively for healthcare professions. It is something that society plays a big role in and we must create an environment where people feel comfortable to talk about suicide, without fearing they will be brushed off for being over dramatic.

Suicide is unique as its a choice made by individuals who feel that they have no choice, and choosing to use the phrase ‘I would rather kill myself…’ minimises the act of suicide into a dramatic act rather than the cry for help it actually is.