Follow guidelines on reporting suicide, please

Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.

LETTERS: Referring to suicide cases, we wish to highlight our concerns regarding the press coverage on suicide deaths in Penang recently.

Although some have respected and followed the 2017 WHO media recommendations of responsible and safe suicide reporting, it is regretful and disappointing to see that others have not done so.

Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.

On the other hand, the impact of ‘unsafe’ reporting can be detrimental as it can further traumatise people with lived experience and even lead to copycat behaviour or cluster suicides, and this has been documented in research studies.

Unsafe reporting includes the use of graphic images or actual pictures depicting the method of suicide, the footage of the suicide location, pictures or unnecessary details of the deceased and their family, sensationalised headlines, stigmatising language and implying that the deaths were due to a single cause.

It is important to highlight that suicide deaths are preventable and the causes are often due to a complex interaction of multiple factors. The do’s and don’ts on safe reporting of suicides are well documented in 2017 WHO recommendations.

Highlighting on help-seeking and news on how positive coping can prevent suicides can contribute to suicide prevention. Similarly speaking up on stigma and encouraging proper care of mental health issues and help-seeking; providing information on how to access care and helplines (by providing a few sources) are very helpful.

We cannot do this (suicide prevention) alone. We recognise that the media is a vital and key stakeholder in suicide prevention, and we would like to reach out to you, the media, to work together with us to prevent further suicides.

Every life is valuable. One suicide death is already too many. Let’s work together to prevent suicides.

Datuk Leslie Lee Kim Guan, President D’HOME Mental Health Association

Dr Teh Ewe Eow, Honorary Treasurer

Dr Ng Yin Ping, Committee Member.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/08/620835/follow-guidelines-reporting-suicide-please

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