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Media Blamed For Suicides

Image: Fr. Cetoute and Dr. Felicien speaking Thursday
Fr. Cetoute and Dr. Felicien speaking Thursday

A WARNING has been issued to the local media to tread carefully with their methods of disseminating news about tragedies and especially suicides.

With four reported cases of suicide for the year so far, all by hanging, Consultant Psychiatrist attached the Wellness Centre, Dr. Eve Felicien and Counselling Psychologist/Roman Catholic Priest Father Ignatius Cetoute addressed members of the local media on Thursday at the Ministry Of Health about the Copy Cat Syndrome of suicide.

This is when people with the suicide ideation, see or hear about other cases via the media and attempt to end their lives in the same fashion.

Dr. Felicien compared this syndrome to an avalanche and said whenever there is a suicide, there are immediately four to five attempts by other individuals using the same method as the deceased who completed the deed. This is because they feel that they too could succeed and do away with all of their problems.

Dr. Felicien said whilst she was very appreciative of the works of the media, she believed that the local media needs to meet her halfway and work together by finding neutral ground where viewers will not be affected but instead they will be kept informed and even learn how to receive help if needed.

She said: “When it comes to press coverage, we do not think that it is OK to cover person’s pictures or people’s faces who have committed suicide. For example, the body hanging from a tree…it would not only affect the person’s family but also young viewers and other persons. So we need to get that clear where we can understand and come together.”

The psychiatrist said that cases by all means can be covered but at the same time she did not see the need to show bodies and bloody scenes as this would most definitely affect every viewer.

Father Cetoute echoed Felicien’s sentiments about the importance of the media. However, he used himself as the perfect example to illustrate why images of death and tragedy should not be shown whilst reporting on the such incidents: “I’m also here as a family member of the recent suicide victim in Cabiche, Babonneau. The victim was Norbert Leonce…he was my second cousin. I think that there must always be a level of sensitivity in the way news items are covered and I believe too that the press should always refrain from showing any graphic footage of such news items.”

When asked if the media contributes to the copycat syndrome, Father Cetoute said in some ways they do, as the images that are shown to viewers, show potential suicide victims that they too can carry out the deed.

He said: “I think that people have reached a stage where as they view such graphic images, especially if the news is graphic, they might see that this might be a way out of dealing with their issues especially if they do not have coping skills. If they are so depressed and they are not able to face their issues and if they are not able to talk to someone, it might be a way out of dealing with their own personal issues.”

As a relative of the deceased, Father Cetoute said this was a difficult and sorrowful time for him and the family. He added that it was very difficult for them to see the last images of their relative on television and online.

He said: “I would suggest that we even refrain from blurry pictures or even pictures where the victim’s face or part of the body is covered. I would suggest that you refrain from that but certainly you can cover the news item in general.

Father Cetoute said currently, the Ministry of Health is working on an action plan which aims at curbing the growing trend of suicides.

One of the projects which was spearheaded by Health Minister Alvina Reynolds, Dr. Felicien and Father Cetoute involves a training session for N.I.C.E workers and members of the community of Babonneau to explain suicide prevention, support systems and what signs to look out for in case someone is suffering from suicide ideations.

Father Cetoute said: “I think we’re at a crucial stage now where we have to be very vigilant. We have to take every change in behaviours very seriously, everything that is said very seriously and we shouldn’t take such things as jokes as we did in the past. We need to encourage families in the various communities to have greater support and regard for each other. We have to be our brother’s/sister’s keeper at all levels.

According to the psychiatrists, suicide is most common in individuals aged between 18-45 years of age and is more common in men than in women.

Rochelle entered the Media fraternity in May 2011 as a fresh-faced young woman with a passion for the English language, a thirst for worldly knowledge and a longing to inform the world of what was happening around them, whether it was good or bad.

She began as part of a small news team at Choice Television, which falls under the MediaZone umbrella. She was hired as one of the original members of the newly created Choice News Now team...Read full bio...

 

4 Comments

  1. I am in agreement with the speakers that not all news should be reported by the media. Suicides, vicious crimes and child molestation should get little to no media attention unless to prompt education or to bring a sense of self awareness. Don”t give these individuals, especially rapists and child molesters the fifteen minutes of fame they seek.

  2. I thought we were in a democracy? It is this kind of divisive thinking that gets us nowhere. The Dr and the Fr ned to re read their pronouncements. The bkame game is myopic and only serves to remove them and their institutions from taking proper responsibility for inadequately handling the situation.
    Julius, i can assure you that blocking coverage if suicides only hides the reality. It doesn’t adress it.

  3. So Jerry, tell me this, how does showing the body of a man swinging from a tree or a mutilated body address the situation? Surely you are not going to sit there and say that showing such graphic, traumatising and downright insensitive images is a way of addressing the matter.
    Whilst I would not say that the media is to be blamed fully, they should take some sort of responsibility because they are not helping the matter in any way and are in fact, just showing suicidal people how to go about doing their business.
    It has been proven that whilst you can report on the matter, you have to be very careful and that applies to homicides as well because copy cats are being fed the right amount of information that they need.
    I think the need to feed the masses the sensationalised news that they crave is blocking your sense of morality.
    Please check this out before trying to absolve your colleagues of any wrong doing..
    http://reportingonsuicide.org/

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