The loss of a loved one by suicide is traumatic and painful, especially for family members, friends and colleagues. A lesser known group who are bereaved for the long term by suicide loss are therapists.
Causation of suicide is complex and multifactorial. While proximal factors to the death are easily known, what is often missed are the many hidden factors in the background operating in a person’s life.
Unsafe reporting of suicides is a risk factor for future suicidal behaviour among vulnerable groups through imitation, especially when detailed methods are portrayed in the report. Sensational and gratuitous reporting of a person’s identity (name, occupation, address and treatment history) worsens the grief of the loss and stigma in help-seeking at times of need.
Media yields immense power in terms of affecting our biases and shaping our values. Suicide reporting can aim to prevent this tragedy.
Help-seeking information, therefore, need to be an integral component of the report.
Unsurprisingly, responsible suicide reporting by the media is recognised as one of the four key strategies in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) LIVE LIFE strategy for preventing suicides. Media guidelines for reporting suicides have been developed across the world, including by the WHO and the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
We call upon the media to be ethical and responsible in reporting suicides. Media can work together with people with lived experience and professional services in educating the masses to prevent suicides.
A person’s life should not be reduced to an untimely end and needs to be honoured with dignity. Those affected during this time are encouraged to get assistance from helplines (e.g. Talian HEAL 15555) or through peer support groups like AWAS Malaysia (Awareness Against Suicide).
This statement was produced in collaboration with a group of stakeholders, namely people with lived experience and AWAS Malaysia.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.