More see suicide as 'viable option'

Tue, Oct 30, 2012, 00:00

In the past two years increasing numbers of people have started to see suicide as a viable solution to problems, the founder of a suicide prevention organisation has said.

According to Paul Kelly of Console, “a deep shift” has occurred and the “intense focus” on suicide on the part of the media in recent years had conditioned some "to think of it as a viable option and a solution”. He was speaking in the context of the death of teenager Erin Gallagher, who took her life in Donegal at the weekend.

Although he said public discussion of the issue was a broadly positive development, he warned against sensationalising or romanticising suicide in the media, as young people are “very vulnerable and impressionable”.

He said people who might contemplate suicide need to be made aware there are other options available. “There is support there for them…They need to know that they are going to be supported during these difficult turbulent times and that suicide is not a viable option.”

Headline, a monitoring programme that promotes responsible coverage of suicide in Irish media, said any “accurate, responsible, and sensitive” discussion of suicide is to be welcomed.

The organisation also warned against reporting cases in a way that presented suicide as an inevitable conclusion. A spokeswoman said that if a reader can identify with a suicide victim’s “situation and with what they’re going through, they may also identify with the choice of suicide, which in certain types of reporting can be presented as a solution… if people aren’t signposted to help afterwards".

“My concern would be that the cases we have seen in the past few weeks have been quite similar, that they’ve been reported on in print media as a pattern of behaviour where suicide is almost presented as the logical next step which is definitely what we try to discourage.”

The Console helpline is at 1800 201 890.