Recently, the news that a rising female player committed suicide while preparing for the tournament got a lot of coverage in the media. The untimely death of the national player, who is expected to win a medal at the upcoming Asian Games, has taken a heavy toll on the country and the news has shocked everyone. This is just a representative incident.
According to the Nepal Police, 7,141 people have lost their lives due to suicide in the last fiscal year 2077/78 alone, i.e. 20 people are losing their lives due to suicide daily. According to this, the number of suicides has increased by about 14 percent as compared to the fiscal year 2076/77. According to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 people worldwide die each year as a result of suicide. Therefore, suicide has emerged as a serious public health problem and our serious attention is needed to prevent it.
Another important aspect of suicide is that most of such incidents can be prevented if proper precautions and steps are taken. Responsible media reporting on suicide incidents is also a major step towards such appropriate steps and precautions.
Studies and research conducted worldwide have shown that accurate reporting of suicide incidents significantly reduces the incidence of suicides and incorrect reporting increases the risk of such incidents. People at risk are at risk of attempting suicide by using the same method after the news of suicide in the media.
This is especially true if the news item is sensational, prominently published with a detailed description of the medium of suicide, or if it promotes widespread misconceptions about suicide. It has been found that there is a significant increase in the number of suicide cases, especially when the suicides of celebrities are not properly reported.
Even in the age of social media, it is very important for all media persons to pay special attention to this as the rumored news with sensational headlines spreads very easily. In the same way, not only the mainstream media but also the posts of ordinary citizens can be easily spread through social media, so it seems necessary for every citizen to pay special attention when posting about suicide incidents on their social media.
Responsible reporting on suicide, on the other hand, can help educate the general public about suicide and its prevention, encourage people at risk of suicide to make alternative decisions, and inspire open and hopeful interaction in society. Storytelling features that help respond to difficult situations in a positive way can help prevent suicide. What are the precautions to be taken while reporting suicide in media or posting on social media?
What to do
When reporting a suicide or posting it on social media, the main thing to keep in mind is to always send the news in a positive way, keeping in mind how the news or post may affect the person who has committed suicide and the family or the person at risk of suicide. For example, reporting or posting a suicide note every time a person has suicidal thoughts, including information on how to deal with or manage it, can save the life of the person at risk. It is easier to find a solution when you consult a healthcare professional, and it can be helpful to talk to someone you trust when such thoughts are temporary.
Similarly, the National Hotline 1166 is currently available for suicide prevention in Nepal, in which you can get free psycho-counseling 24 hours a day when you have suicidal thoughts. There is a lot of confusion in our society about suicide which can lead to such incidents. Therefore, when reporting a suicide incident, it can have a positive effect on suicide prevention if it is done in a way that breaks down the misconceptions prevailing in the society and spreads the truth.
Similarly, when reporting such incidents, presenting the experience of how a person who has attempted suicide or who is thinking has faced it in a positive way can also have a positive effect on the person who has such thoughts. In addition, when reporting a suicide, it is important to keep in mind the privacy and self-esteem of the person concerned and the bereaved family.
Similarly, it is important to be especially sensitive when interviewing bereaved family members. It is important to be aware that such incidents can be heartbreaking and that there is a risk that the media person may be traumatized or affected while reporting them.
What not to do
Suicide cases, especially those committed by celebrities, are of particular interest to the general public, and most of these news items are published with priority. But repetitive news with priority can further discourage a person at risk of suicide. Therefore, any suicide incident should not be given priority and it should be included how to manage such thoughts and seek help. Sensational headlines or news can further discourage people at risk, so special attention should be paid to headlines. For example, instead of the title “Suicide by hanging by a clean medal winning record player”, it may be appropriate to use the title “found dead” or “found dead in a room”.
In the same way, when giving details about the means, plan, method and location of suicide, people at risk can do the same, so do not give details or transmit photos, videos. Nowadays, especially on social media, there are many people who post photos and videos of suicide incidents or post such photos and videos as a tribute or post a comment about a person who lost his life due to suicide.
Doing so could further discourage people at risk of suicide and increase the likelihood of such incidents. Similarly, such posts can seriously damage the privacy and self-esteem of the deceased and their families. So we should always avoid having such posts.
If every one of us communicators and all the citizens who use social media responsibly follow the above mentioned things, we can make a significant contribution in reducing the growing problem of suicide in Nepal and save many lives from starvation. Let’s pledge to do responsible media reporting and responsible social media posting on suicide incidents from today and help prevent suicide.
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