Media coverage of suicide cases in Oro criticized
CAGAYAN DE ORO, PHILIPPINES – Covering suicide cases by going too deep into personal details, including the identities of victims and their families, has been criticized for its extreme stigma and lack of sensitivity.
The Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) and the Psychology Department at Xavier University have raised concerns over reports of the suicide of presenters and journalists on some radio stations in the city.
In separate statements, the COPC and the XU Psychology Department condemned the disclosure of information that invades the privacy of the individuals and families concerned.
It has been observed that radio stations have devoted significant airtime whenever suicide incidents occur in the city of Misamis Oriental province. The anchor would ask his reporters to interview neighbors, family members and friends of the victim.
Journalists would collect information on personal details such as names, addresses, occupation and information about the deceased’s latest activities that families or friends observed, remembered, saw or noticed prior to the suicide.
Caution and empathy
In a statement posted to its social media on May 10, the XU-Psychology department said releasing such personal information on this sensitive and often stigmatized issue constitutes an intrusion into the privacy of affected families and victims.
While we understand that other information in the local report is general news, there is no need and purpose for the audience to know details like specific names and addresses. Such exposure without regard to sensitivity to the issue potentially violates the privacy rights of the family, ” the statement said.
XU-Psychology Department urges media to exercise caution and empathy in disseminating information about suicide to avoid sensationalism and stand by [media practitioners] “to account for the real and imagined harm inflicted on vulnerable and impressionable individuals, families and members of society.”
The department encourages the press and the public to treat suicide and the issues surrounding it with confidentiality and respect, adding that they [media and public] must understand that behind these stories lie human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity as we challenge the media and the public to be allies in preventing suicide and promoting mental health and a better life. positive well-being. ”
“Don’t add more pain”
For its part, the COPC noted that the coverage of incidents like suicide is legitimate topical copy and is part of its “social contract” with the public to provide information on interests and importance.
However, we share with their [XU-Psychology department] observation that naming or revealing the identity of people with mental health problems is inconsistent with sensitivities. We would like to remind our members and fellow broadcasters to be sensitive on issues such as mental health issues, especially suicide related deaths, ” COPC President Manny Jaudian, Ph.D., said in a COPC press release issued on May 11.
Jaudian said the media should not add more pain to families by doing “blow-by-blow” or descriptive reports that seem to sensationalize suicide incidents.
He said the media should continue to cover suicide incidents but should refrain from revealing names “to give dignity to those who have suffered the most, not of their own accord.”
“Our coverage will lose its relevance when we join the circus of mediocre people who are now popping up on social media,” Jaudian said, adding: “Let us remember our crucial role in this rapidly changing society which is not just to be revealers of the truth, but also sensitive to the news that invades the heart of our humanity. ”
The coverage of death by suicide generally wins more audiences, but its downside is more negative than positive as the report is turned into a “feast”.
In an article published on Time.com, exposure to suicide, either directly or through media and entertainment, according to mental health experts, “may make people more likely to resort to suicidal behavior, an phenomenon called: suicidal contagion “.
The article stated that “certain specific journalistic practices, such as involving many details about death by suicide or glorifying it, may exacerbate the contagion of suicide.”
The Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, quoted in the article, said, “We are not saying that the reporting on suicide is bad. The point is not to blame journalists and tell them how to do their job, but it is to provide a strong enough research base to support specific guidelines on how reporting on suicide should be done. ‘ ‘