First, Do No Harm

Complaining about English usage on an episode of Dr. Drew On Call devoted to Jodi Arias is like observing of a car wreck that the car needed detailing. I realize this, but to hell with it: "suicidality" is a ridiculous word, and Drew Pinsky's experts look ridiculous for using it.

A quick Google informs me that "suicidality" is an FDA coinage, of all things, that allegedly dates back to a 2004 press release, and it shows up in various official-seeming places (the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' website, for one), so maybe it's one of those words, like "irregardless," that's in the dictionary now and we all just have to live in the bell jar. But it sounds made up, to a "truthiness" degree. In fact, it has the faint whiff of "Wessonality," and unless suicidality something you want Florence Henderson's 324 teeth endorsing as the best route to moist and tender chicken breasts, perhaps you ought to stick with "suicidal ideations." Or "the likelihood of [x] committing suicide." Or anything that does not imply fricassee.

The real issue here is that I only let myself watch DDOC in the first place because Dr. Drew's panel of shrinks and lawyers gives the klatchy commentary a veneer of respectability. Dr. Robi Ludwig is probably only there to promote her book ('Til Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage and the Mind of the Killer Spouse), should not spell her name "Robi" if she isn't a stripper, and is usually laboring under more makeup than the population of the average clown car, so my trust in her and the other bone-pickers is perhaps misplaced. Not to mention that "suicidality" isn't the least professional argot used in last night's show. Umpteen years of medical school, a residency, et cetera and so on, and "she's got the crazy eyes" is your diagnosis, Pinsky?

I've defended the show in the past, on the basis that it's more or less the same discussion my grandmother and her friends would have had on the side porch, but authorized by decades of medical and legal experience. It does need that aura of authority, though, and words like "suicidality" may force me to dewatchify.


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