“Died by” vs “Committed” – A Reflection on Suicide Nomenclature

Recently I read Jennifer Niven’s young adult novel, All the Bright Places, which deals with suicide and mental illness.

What I thought of the book

Overall, I loved it. And you can read my review of it over on my book blog. Fair warning: it’s one of my only not spoiler-free reviews. It’s a really good, mature-ish, YA (young adult) novel. It’s creative and fun, but also dark and serious.

The reason my review is not spoiler-free is because of the topic of this post. One of the characters dies by suicide, and his girlfriend, as a narrator, writes it as to “commit” suicide instead of “die by.”

You need some back story.

Before I get to some of the reasons why this nomenclature difference is important, I want to explain why I’m writing this post. A few years ago, the difference in wording was brought to my attention (not directly) by another mental health advocate in my sphere. It made complete sense to me, and since then, I have been vocally challenging anyone who uses “committed” instead of “died by.” And very often, people ask me why it matters. That made it clear to me that the phrasing needs more attention. This novel made that clear to me as well, as does any time I encounter “committed” instead of “died by” in reference to suicide.

My history

First of all, I have never attempted suicide or seriously contemplated it. I do, however, experience intrusive thoughts related to suicide, which I talk to my counsellor about.

I have also had several experiences with a person in my sphere dying by suicide. Never a close friend or family member, but I don’t think that matters.

Please, if you are a person with more authority on this matter than I am, share your thoughts and challenge mine if they need to be.

So, why does this matter?

First, think about instances where we use the word “committed.” People are “committed” to institutions, like prisons or hospitals. Crimes are “committed.” Most often, we encounter this word with a negative connotation.

But suicide is not a crime. It is a tragedy.

“Died by” vs. “committed” suicide – the difference

Saying that a person committed suicide gives their passing the connotation of a crime. Which it is not. It is unfortunate. And terribly, terribly sad. It is heartbreaking. It hurts other people. But it is not a crime. And most times, it is not even a choice.

People who die by suicide are not criminals. They are not inherently bad. They’ve just lost the battle with a disorder, just like people who die from cancer or heart attack have lost the battle with a disease. I would argue that people who die by suicide are far closer to victims than they are criminals.

What I’m doing

Every time I encounter the phrase “commit/committed/commits suicide,” I challenge it. Vocally. And I invite you to as well.

The thing that I find most interesting is that in her afterword, Niven uses “died by suicide,” not “committed.” I wonder why she chose the other wording in the story. I wonder if perhaps she thought it would be more realistic for a teenager to not know the right wording. I don’t know.

But I do think that writers and bloggers and mental health advocates have a duty to treat mental health and stigma with care. Words are powerful. Don’t get me wrong, I think Niven does a very good job of this for 99% of her novel. But any time a person reads the word “committed” instead of “died by” before the word “suicide,” it teaches the reader, subconsciously or not, that that is the word you use. Conversely, the same can be said about choosing to write “died by.”

In a world where there is still so much stigma associated with mental illness, perpetuating as much health-centred, person-centred, and less-negative vocabulary is important.

Let’s work to end the stigma, and help people who suffer with various mental disorders and who experience suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide.

Peace and love,

– Bee.


Thankful Thursday 14: Home(body)

Welcome to the fourteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Home(body)!

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for home and everything it entails: my home city, being home from my vacation, my home (apartment), and as I refer to in my title, my act of being a homebody.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of July 20 – July 26, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • I had a busy first day back, and it really helped me get over the fatigue of the long drive from Calgary and get back into the swing of things.
  • This past weekend, I participated in the 24in48 Readathon, which I really enjoyed. I ended up reading for 17.5 hours in 48 hours between Friday and Sunday. You can read about my experience on my book blog.

    Starting off the readathon in style on Saturday morning. And I’m still obsessed with my sloth mug.
  • The weekend was also filled with rugby! Friday to Sunday was the Rugby World Cup 7s, so that was on pretty much all day each day.

    My life looked like this for most of the weekend.
  • Andrew and I played golf again at the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt!

    It was a beautiful morning!
  • I had a couple of appointments this week and those often cause me a lot of anxiety but they went well. And now I can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re over!
  • On Monday, I biked the seawall to one of the quieter beaches to sunbathe and read.
It was a beautiful day!
  • My best friend and I went to high tea at Honey & Salt (one of the restaurants at the new Parq casino in Yaletown) and it was delicious. We also walked home and I finally got to see the beautiful umbrella installation near Yaletown-Roundhouse station.
    Not pictured: The two crêpes that were also included.

  • On Wednesday morning, I went for a run and got treated to a beautifully calm sunrise.
  • Wednesday was also my husband and I’s third wedding anniversary, which is always a really happy day.

    Image by Sean McGrath.
  • Andrew is an excellent gift giver, and he usually tries to go super literal with the traditional anniversary gift each year. This year, he told me it was difficult to find “tanned leather hides” (you can Google it), so he went whole hog with a bunch of leather items, themed around our upcoming travel and of course, colour coordinated to our wedding. New, much-needed purse, purple leather manicure kit, portable jewelry case (with a hidden compartment for necklaces), leather pencil-case, teal leather clutch (also much-needed), luggage tags, and bracelets for future Canada days together.
He’s a keeper.
  • Finally, today I started doing a new workout program as part of my half-marathon off-season cross training. It was hard, but I know it was a great workout, so I’m going to keep at it!

And the theme for this week, Home(body)!

This week I’ve felt a really big sense of gratitude for everything that is home to me.


First, I pretty much invariably feel thankful for Vancouver any time I go away. I love to travel, but dang I love my city. Every time I get home to this place, even when I’m sitting in the same place in traffic for twenty minutes because of a road closure (what happened this time), I fall in love all over again.

Home is also a person for me, my husband. Even just being away for a week reminds me of all the reasons why I love him so much. As they say, absence makes the heart grow stronger.

Returning home after being away also makes me remember how much gratitude I have for our little apartment. It’s not new, or modern, and it’s definitely not spacious, but it’s ours. Our personalities are everywhere in this little space, and I’ve spent 8 years curating it into a place that makes me so happy. My book nook. The couch by our window with the view I love so much. My desk. The library. My plant babies. There is so much for me to love about this place, and I need to remind myself of this the next time I scream about needing a dishwasher or not wanting to go down to the basement with the laundry.


Finally, I’m really thankful to be able to be a homebody at this point in my life. I’ve spent most of this week in my apartment. Yes, I’ve exercised outside. I’ve gone to the beach. Hung out with a friend (twice). Had four appointments. Gone out for food with my husband (also twice). I’ve visited friends and their adorable kids. I’ve played golf. But really, I’ve spent at least 90% of my time at my desk, cleaning my apartment, in my bed, on my chair in my reading nook, or on the couch. I’m really trying to take the time to journal, write, read, and think. To spend time just being with myself, and learning and growing. I’m getting cozy. I’m relaxing. It’s definitely been much-needed. And I’m thankful for it.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 13: Road Trip

Welcome to the thirteenth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Road Trip!

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for the road trip to Calgary that I have done annually for the past two years (this is now the third time).

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of July 13 – July 19, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • Early in my visit to Calgary, we went to watch my cousin Ty’s soccer game and I got some time with his family’s dog, Kobe. I just love him!
  • Dad, Sharon, and I went for wing night at their local pub twice, and it was super delicious.
  • I spent almost every afternoon reading and sunbathing in the back yard on a lawn chair, finishing 5.5 books!
  • I got to see everyone in the family at least once, which rarely happens because they’re often travelling in the summer!
  • One of those visits was a fun little trip to Fish Creek with one of my cousins and her two kids! We skipped rocks by the river and sat down for ice cream at Annie’s.

    It was beautiful by the Elbow river, but buggy!
  • On Monday, we went to Waterton Lakes National Park. We intended to go down for canoeing at Cameron Lake, but when we got there it was closed because of bears! Instead, we sat on the beach by the main lake for lunch and then got ice cream at a place called The Big Scoop. It was lovely anyway!
    The view of the lake from the beach.
    My view laying down on the beach looking up.

    Toasted S’mores and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in a waffle cone from The Big Scoop.
  • We got some more family time (and Kobe time!!) later in the week.

    He’s a little ham!
  • He squeezed between Dad and I on the bench.
    His head was too heavy to hold up apparently, so he laid it on the table.

    Really into the scritches from Sharon.
  • Dad, Sharon, and I got a few runs in, even though it was super super hot! It felt good to be able to move my legs.
  • This beautiful sunset!
  • There’s a new movie theatre out by my parents’ house, and the seats are AMAZING. There’s a button you push and then they recline electrically!

And the theme for this week, Road Trip!

I know this post has pretty much all been about my road trip already, but I have a few things to be thankful for about the road trip specifically.

First, I just really love the drive. It takes me about 11.5 hours (with three quick pee/coffee/snack stops). I take my own lunch and snacks also so that I don’t have to wait a while at Tim’s for food. Most people exclaim various things about my craziness at doing a drive that long all in one day/alone. They also express surprise that I enjoy it, but I really do. I’ve always loved driving (as long as it’s not in heavy traffic). It’s almost meditative for me, but I assure you, I stay focused and safe.

Another thing I love about this long drive is that I pre-load over 100 podcasts into a queue on my phone and plug it in before I get going. As you probably already know from reading my other posts, podcasts are an obsession of mine, and long drives are a great way to get caught up. And if I’m not feeling something, I just skip on ahead using my radio controls!

Finally, if you’re going to do a road trip, the drive between Vancouver and Calgary is one of the best. You get a great rip (if the weather is good) on the Coquihalla Highway, where the limit goes as high as 120km/h. The ride through Glacier National Park and Roger’s Pass is stunning. The mountains and forests are gorgeous and ever-changing. It’s the opposite of boring!

Overall, this year the construction was the least intrusive that I’ve ever seen it. I only had to stop a couple of times, whereas last year I remember sitting and waiting for 15-30 minutes in some places. And the weather was pretty good. Fairly rainy on the way over to Calgary but not so much that it slowed me down, and absolutely beautiful on the way back to Vancouver.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 12: Headspace

Welcome to the twelfth instalment of my Thankful Thursday series, Headspace!

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for the headspace that I have now that I’m off work for a while, and what I’m managing to do with it.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of July 6 – July 12, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past week:

  • I started feeling like eating salads and this was one of them; it was super delicious.

  • I got to spend time rearranging some of my bookshelves.
  • Andrew and I went to brunch at Craft and got our favourite server. As usual, lots of coffee.

  • I went for my first run (read: ambling jog) since the Scotia Half and got this beautiful, if grey, view.
  • I’ve spent a lot of this week reading, and ended up finishing A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time. With one of my cute new owl mugs!

  • Andrew and I went to the Stanley Park pitch & putt for the first time since we bought our new clubs. It was a beautiful morning and we had a lot of fun.

  • On Tuesday, I drove to Calgary as per my now third-annual summer road trip. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but it was sunny for part of it. I also made the best time I have yet, I think because I didn’t have to wait for too much construction.
  • On my first morning here, Dad and I went for a jog together by the water.

And the theme for these two weeks, Headspace!

I’ve now had almost my second full week off work for the summer. After getting through the first week of mostly sleeping, I’ve been able to start working on some things.

Without the usual stressors of work and having less time for things like cooking, eating, planning, exercising, errands, chores, etc., I now feel like I have the headspace to be a bit more intentional about how I live my life.

I’ve been planning how I want the remaining weeks of my summer to look, and I’ve also been able to simply revel in the peace and quiet. It’s been lovely, and I look forward to more of it.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Thankful Thursday 11: Taking a Break

Welcome to the eleventh instalment of my Thankful Thursday, Taking a Break!

This week I’m focusing on gratitude for taking a break, I’ve definitely been doing in many areas of my life over the past two weeks. I even skipped a week of posting this series!

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the weeks of June 22 – July 5, 2018!

Things I am thankful for over the past two weeks:

  • My carbo-loading dinner with Andrew on Saturday evening before the half marathon (pretzel bites with cheesy dip, chicken pot pie with salad, and yam fries).
  • Finishing my half marathon just 40 seconds past 2:30, my goal time due to my hip injury
  • My hip injury being finally COMPLETELY HEALED!
  • The new Panic! at the Disco album, which is really great
  • My two other new favourite songs, Not a Love Song by bülow and by Jocelyn Alice.
  • The amazing teacher book club meeting we had about reading a non-fiction book about a person who inspires us (I read I Am Malala, which I will be reviewing on my book blog in the near future)

    Tom’s contribution was particularly amusing.
  • The fun but exhausting weekend of Provincial Regional Championship (PRC) rugby where I coached the VRU N-E-W U16 girls.
    My U16 girls, and my co-coach, Georgia!
    The U18 team, which I helped coach at practice, who won bronze!

    My two Sentinel girls who made the U18 team, love them so much <3
  • The amount of sleep I’ve gotten over the past few days since work and rugby ended (I slept 10:30-5:30 on Monday night, then went back to bed Tuesday morning at 7:30 and didn’t wake up until 2:30.. bliss).
  • Finally, the amount I’ve read since work ended. I’ve already finished three books this month, and I’m starting another today!

    My happy place.

And the theme for these two weeks, Taking a Break!

Two major areas in my life are taking a huge break this week: work and running.

First, work!

  • The first week covered in this post was the last week of the school year, and aside from invigilating a provincial exam and prepping a modern language educational activity, it was all admin work and prep for next year.
  • I don’t usually realize how much work takes out of me until I take a break. I typically get sick right at the start of the Winter holidays, of Spring Break, and of the Summer holidays. It was really nice to have this transition week from full-out working to more relaxed working, to fully off.
  • I was so tired by Friday that I fell asleep at my desk after arriving at 7:30 (Good thing I technically don’t start work until 8:30! Don’t get me started on traffic, I’ll go on for days.). It was nice to have no other real responsibilities aside from helping set up at the staff end-of-year party which I helped plan as part of the Social Committee.

Second, running!

  • My training for my second (and last) half marathon of 2018 finished up and I ran the race on June 24. The weather was as perfect as could be for the time of year (it did get quite hot toward the end). Along Cornwall Ave, people were on their front lawns spraying us with sprinklers, it was awesome!
  • It was a really great way to end off 6 months of training, and now I’m going into my six month off-season with a couple of weeks of post-race rest and planning for my cross-training months which will see me through December. It’s been nice to give my body a break; half-marathon training is quite intense. I don’t think I could ever do a full marathon.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,