My Phone’s Auto-Complete Tries to Censor Me

One thing I have noticed since I started blogging from my phone more often, is that my phone’s auto-complete really doesn’t like some words. What I mean is, it learns new words as I use them, but there are some words it just refuses to learn. No matter how many times I use lower-case g “god”, it always tries to suggest that I actually meant to capitalize that ‘g’. Lower-case g “gods” is okay, though. It also won’t learn “fuck” or “fucking”, but apparently it will learn “fuckity” (which I used once, maybe twice). And it doesn’t like the words “suicide” or “suicidal”, but it did learn my typo “suicida”. That last one bothers me more than any of the others. I mean, coding morality policing into my phone is really annoying, and I don’t see why they couldn’t just leave those words out of the default dictionary as opposed to blacklisting them so the auto-correct can’t learn them. But censoring “suicide” is bullshit. It suggests that suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide are shameful or taboo. And fuck that.

We need to be talking about suicide more, not less (except for reporting stories of completed suicides in the media–those can actually inspire people who are on the fence to go ahead and attempt). The more it’s talked about, the less taboo the subject is, the more likely that people who are considering killing themselves will actually talk to someone else about it, or seek help. As it is, reaching out and talking to someone else about suicidal thoughts is very daunting. You don’t know how people will react. They might freak out and call the police (never fun). They might dismiss you and tell you that you wouldn’t really do it. They might think less of you. They might start treating you like you’re made of glass. It’s a scary prospect, even without suicide being a taboo subject.

It makes it harder to figure out what to do if you suspect someone you know might be suicidal, too. If we talked about this more, then it might be common knowledge that asking a person if they are suicidal will not give them the idea to do so. If they are thinking about killing themselves, they may be hugely relieved that you asked them about it. And then they will have someone they can talk to about it. And maybe more people would know that it is best to ask about this with clear, direct wording. “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” not “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” or even worse, “You’re not thinking of doing anything drastic, are you?” or the ultimately vague “Are you okay?” A person can be very not okay, can absolutely be thinking about hurting themself (e.g. punching a wall a few times), can be actively planning to do something drastic (e.g. quit their job and move to another city), and still not be considering suicide.

And maybe if we don’t heap on all this shame and secrecy, the families of people who have completed suicide will have a slightly less shitty time dealing with their loss. Dealing with the death of a loved one by suicide is very difficult; on top of everything else, there is the question of whether you could have done something different and kept them from dying. Adding shame on top of the guilt that’s already often there is not helping.

Anyway, kudos to Ivy Willow for maintaining a list of crisis hotlines around the world on her blog. No sweeping the issue under the rug there 🙂


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