ENTERTAINMENT | Island News

Don’t sensationalise the sensitive, says mental health officer to media

By TEVITA VUIBAU Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch Drawing a fine line between reporting facts and sensationalising stories of suicide can lower suicide rates. And it is this responsible reporting that
09 Apr 2012 12:00

Michael McKinnon of Australia (left) with media personnel during an anti-corruption workshop at the PINA Pacific Media Summit in Pacific Harbour, Deuba, in March 2012. Photo: RONALD KUMAR

By TEVITA VUIBAU
Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch

Drawing a fine line between reporting facts and sensationalising stories of suicide can lower suicide rates.
And it is this responsible reporting that is being advocated by the National Committee on the Prevention of Suicide (NCOPS) mental health project officer Michael Smith.
In a presentation to journalists at the Pacific Media Summit in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, Mr Smith called on media outlets to exercise more responsibility in reporting suicide stories.
He said individuals contemplating suicide could be influenced by articles that sensationalise the subject.

Journalists’ power
“As a journalist you can affect the mortality rate when reporting how someone died,” Mr Smith said.
“Journalists must be fully aware of the potential influence of coverage on a depressed person who may or may not be having suicidal thoughts.”
Mr Smith said there was a need for media reports on suicide to avoid romanticising and idealising suicides.
Instead, he said, journalists should focus their efforts on providing information on support services and help line contacts while also raising awareness of mental health issues contributing to suicide.

Statistics
He said in Fiji there were a total of 1749 attempted suicide cases between 2002 and 2010, which was an average of 194 attempts per year.
He said the overall suicide rate in Fiji was three for every 100,000 people. Indo-Fijians descent topped the list with 83 per cent and indigenous Fijians were 15 per cent.



5square-mothersday


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Covid 19 - SPC
Total
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper