Mental Health

Intro blurb about this topic.

  • Addiction” and “substance use disorder” are both acceptable and may depend on the context — the former is more recognizable to a nonmedical audience, for example.
  • “Addict,” “alcoholic,” “abuser” and other terms that define a person solely by their addiction should be avoided. Use person-first terms such as “people with a heroin addiction” instead.
  • Died by suicide” or “killed themselves” is preferable to “committed suicide,” as “committed” can imply that the person did something illegal.
    • Relatedly, do not describe suicide attempts as “successful,” “unsuccessful” or “failed,” which are value judgments rather than neutral descriptions of a situation.
  • Avoid terms such as “mentally ill,” which can insinuate that someone’s mental illness makes up the entirety of their mental state or that because they have a mental illness they are not “mentally healthy.” A person can have a mental illness such as depression and still be mentally healthy. Instead, specify the illness or use a phrase like “living with mental illness.”