Media sensitized on suicide, TB, drug abuse and mental health issues

August 31, 2019

 Gangtok, 30 Aug (IPR): Health & Family Welfare Department organized a sensitization training programme on Suicides, Tuberculosis, Drug Abuse and Mental Health for media personnel at the New STNM Multispecialty Hospital today. 

The welcome speech by Dr Sonam Lasopa was followed by talks and elaborations on early identification of mental illness, current trends in suicide & reporting of suicide by Dr Bibhusan Dahal, Psychiatrist.

He highlighted that youngsters were the most vulnerable group to suicides.

Suicide is a condition/ situation not an illness, he stressed.

A majority of people who commit suicide are between 15 to 19 years of age, it was informed.

Awareness has to be created among family members and friends on prevention of suicide, Dr Dahal stated while adding that the family should be very sensitive and observe the behavior of the person inclined to commit suicide.

The media, society and the community should work together to prevent this social evil, he added.

Medical Officer Dr Bhawana elaborated on the prevention and control of Tuberculosis.

She spoke about DOTS [Directly Observed Treatment Short course] which is the internationally recommended strategy for TB control that has been recognized as being highly efficient and cost-effective.

KC Nima, project director of Freedom Facility, also elaborated on the role of Crises Centre Helpline and highlighted its activities.

Also he urged media persons to generate wider awareness among the masses about the 24x7 Crises Centre Suicide Prevention Helpline Number - 18003453225/ 03592-202111 and 104 - where anyone can call and seek help.

The main objective of the Programme was:

-          To create an awareness among the general masses about prevention of suicide through authentic report released by media.

-          To motivate students and people to create awareness among family, friends and peer group members on prevention of suicide.

During the interaction session, discussions were held to improve collaboration with the health system and civil society and the need for broader and more effective reporting on TB.

Responsible reporting takes the opportunity to educate the public about suicide.  There are many misconceptions about suicide, and the media can play a role in dispelling various myths. 

The factors that lead an individual to suicide are usually multiple and complex, and should not be reported in a simplistic, dramatic or sensational way, it was stressed. 

Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event, it was added and mental illness a strong predictor of suicide.  Mental disorders, such as depression and substance use disorders may influence a person's ability to cope with various life stressors and interpersonal conflicts. 

Cultural, genetic and socioeconomic factors need to be taken into account as well.  Almost always, it will be misleading to attribute a suicide to an individual event like exam failure or relationship breakdown particularly in circumstances where the death has not yet been fully investigated. 

Suicide should certainly not be depicted as a means of coping with personal problems.  The complexity of the act has a devastating impact for family members and friends, often leaving them searching for causes, wondering whether there had been signs they may have missed, mourning their loss, and feeling guilty, angry, stigmatized or abandoned.

Reports of suicide that explore some of these effects will further serve to educate the public.  Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems, perhaps more than anyone, media professionals recognize the importance of language in conveying nuanced meanings.  Language which conveys that suicide is a significant public health problem will serve to educate the community.  Such language should not sensationalize suicide.  Terms like "increasing rates' should be used in preference to hyperbolic phrases like 'suicide epidemic', and caution should be exercised in using the word 'suicide' in headlines. Language that misinforms the public about suicide or normalizes it should be avoided, informed by the resource persons.

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