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Suicide: Psychiatrist advises journalists on responsible reportage

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Dr Maymunah Kadiri, a consultant psychiatrist, has called for caution in the way suicide cases are reported in the country while urging journalists to ensure best practice of the profession.

Kadiri, a mental health advocate and Founder, Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Lagos.

According to her, some of the suicide cases happened because of the way some people were being mimicked or because victims copied what was highly publicised on ways of indulging in the act.

Kadiri called on the media to effectively play an advocacy role in the fight against suicide through responsible and skillful reportage.

“The big question is how journalists, celebrities and anyone who posts on social media can embrace some best practices that will minimise the effect or copycat suicide.

“Media reporting of suicide plays a pivotal role in preventing the way people end their own life; Suicide in itself is preventable.

“Therefore, to embrace best practices and report suicide responsibly, journalists must always include warning signs against suicide.

“They must include the message that suicide is not a natural or logical outcome of adversity.

“Instead, the media should include the message of hope and that recovery is possible as most people who think about suicide do recover,” Kadir said.

The consultant psychiatrist said suicide report should not state the means of the death.

“Any responsible news organisation that feels compelled to include some detail should report it low in the story and avoid putting it in headlines, teasers, captions, or social text.

“The neutral photos of the individual should be used instead of photos that would invoke melancholy.

“Those images of a victim who appears peaceful, calm and serene send a message that suicide would get one to that peaceful place,’’ she said.

The psychiatrist appealed to the media to describe suicide trends accurately without alarm, noting that suicide was rising, but not skyrocketing as reported.

Kadiri said suicide reports should not lack quotes and advice from suicide prevention experts, emphasising that treatment and intervention were effective.

The psychiatrist further said all hands must be on deck to fight the menace.

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