EDITORS SHOULD BE MORE DISCERNING WHEN REPORTING SUICIDES

Dear A.S.S,

I am writing in to the various media (print media and online media) as a concerned Singaporean. This is with regards to the latest report carried by various media about the 17 year old girl who had committed suicide on Monday 4th April.

The story was covered by “All Singapore Stuff” on Tues 5th April, and was headlined as “17 y.o. girl jumps off 12th storey after breaking up with boyfriend.” I am writing in to sincerely appeal to the editorial team not to highlight suicide cases in Singapore, especially those involving teenagers.

Studies and research (*see references below) have shown that there is a strong co-relation between reports of suicide cases and copycat suicides. This is especially so for teenage suicides. The recent spate of teenage suicides in Singapore is a grave concern. Having had working experience with the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), it is indeed true that teenagers are in the high-risk group. This is understandable, given the heightened emotional and volatile make-up of teenagers in general.

It is important that journalists and editors; the print and online media strive to exercise restraint in reporting suicide cases. The following are the media guidelines which the World Health Organization and others endorse for the coverage of any suicide :

* Use extreme restraint in covering these deaths.
* Keep the word “suicide” out of the headline.
* Do not romanticize or sensationalize the death.
* Limit the number of stories (ie not to run the story if it has already been reported by another newspaper or online media site).
* Photography, pictures, visual images or film depicting such cases should not be made public.

Below are some references pertaining to the studies and research done. I do hope you will give serious consideration to future coverage of suicide cases in Singapore. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Justina Yapp
A.S.S Contributor

*References :

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/01/teen-copycat-suicides-are-a-real-phenomenon.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201208/when-suicides-come-in-clusters

https://www.psychology.org.au/Content.aspx?ID=1830

http://blog.nus.edu.sg/sc2214d4siaoyi/2014/04/12/media-reporting-on-suicide-cases/

http://www.annals.edu.sg/pdf/37VolNo9Sep2008/V37N9p797.pdf

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