Two recent high profile cases involving the deaths of two Greater Victoria women - unrelated cases - have concluded without the mainstream media or police indicating that both were cases of suicide. Mainstream media just left us hanging, completely avoiding the subject that would be of most interest in the article - the cause of the death. We know that the media had the information, but they chose to to report it. Why?
We don't believe in hiding the cause of death when it is suicide. Suicide is very real, and takes the lives of hundreds of Canadians every year.
What do YOU think? Should we be quiet, and ignore this mental illness, or shed a light on the issue - including reporting the cause of death in high profile cases - in order to perhaps prevent more deaths?
My Facebook page recently reported on a near suicide attempt that was very, very public and we were chastised by a suicide prevention charity for doing that.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REPORTING ON SUICIDE
VICTORIA - A suicide attempt in a busy shopping district in the Victoria area recently became the topic of social media posts. A social marketing firm promoting the downtown posted “exclusive” photos of the event, generating controversy and rebuke. Thankfully the police were successful in preventing fatal action and in getting the individual help. However, the incident raises questions about the role that online coverage and content, does, and could play in the coverage of suicide.
Suicide coverage should be informed by what we know:
· More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood ofsuicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.
· Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.
· Covering suicide carefully, even briefly, can change public misperceptions and correct myths which can encourage those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.
We sent this reply:
Thanks for the note. Honestly, and respectfully, we take a different view. A more modern view, we'd say. One that encourages discussion of mental illness, andsuicide, rather than one that ignores it.We side with the author of this piece, a journalist:We did not discuss the incident in Victoria, we reported it and left others to talk about it. We think that's positive.Not many years ago, a person suffering from breast cancer would not let their diagnosis become public, for some type of shame about what part of their body was affected by cancer. Thankfully, that shame has been mostly put to rest, and now breast cancer charities are among North America's largest fundraising organizations, fighting to find a cure, and advance treatment methods for the disease.So while we read your note and suggestions with interest, we don't feel your recommendations are a modern approach, or ones that will fight stigma.
What are your thoughts?