18 Aug Why 9NEWS uses the words assisted ‘suicide’
KUSA – This November, you’re going to get to vote on anassisted suicide law in Colorado.
Supporters of that law have asked 9NEWS not to call it assisted “suicide.” They’d rather we call it “medical aid in dying.”
What follows is our explanation of why we are not going to grant that request:
First off, 9NEWS has no position on this ballot question. Nor do we take the issue lightly.
We have a duty to tell you about it in simple, direct language. That’s why we’re not going to stop using the word “suicide.”
Supporters of the measure argue the word “suicide” is too friendly to the opposition because it may make you think of someone who ends their life for no good reason.
In contrast, the proposed law does require a reason: you’d need to be diagnosed with a terminal illness to get a life-ending prescription.
But in plain English, that’s still “suicide.”
Merriam-Webster defines suicide as:
“The act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.”
The Oxford Dictionary puts it more simply:
“The action of killing oneself intentionally”
Dictionary.com goes with:
“The intentional taking of one’s own life.”
Supporters of this proposal want to change the dictionary definition of suicide. They might succeed one day.
Changes in the law can end up changing our language.
If you don’t believe us, find an old dictionary and look up the word “marriage.”
But it’s not our job in the news business to change the dictionary.
It’s our job to use plain language that’s current and accurate– and that’s what we’ll keep doing.