Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Don't sensationalise suicides, media urged

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Hicklin

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

Dr Frederick Hicklin, professor of psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, Mona, has urged the local media to stop being sensational when it comes to reporting on suicides.

"The responsibility of the media is not to be sensational about suicide, as that's really not going to be very helpful to the country. Unfortunately, it's been like that since I was a young person. Everytime there is a case of suicide, the press has a photo of it and blows it out of proportion," charged Hicklin.

"I think that the media shouldn't report on it at all, or if they do, it should be done in a very muted way, such as a little one-inch column at the back of the newspaper, rather than on the front page. There should only be a little piece noting that it actually occurred," argued Hicklin.

He was responding to questions from The Sunday Gleaner after director of mental health in the Ministry of Health, Dr Maureen Irons-Morgan, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week that the media have an important role to play in the reduction of suicides through responsible reporting.

"What we want is responsible reporting; we don't want suicide to be reported in a way that almost glamorises the event. Some young people may feel like, 'Oh, I want my picture in the paper', and that is exactly what we are trying to avoid," said Irons-Morgan.

"Suicide causes a lot of pain to the people who are left behind. We do want the information to be out there, as we don't want it to be hidden in the closet. Suicide is preventable, and the reporting has to be done in a responsible manner," argued Irons-Morgan.

alessandro.boyd@gleanerjm.com