Role of Media in Covering Social Issues

Writing on his blog recently, social activist Vidyartha Kissoon stated, “There are reporting guidelines around the world. For example the Good Samaritans in the United Kingdom and the Australian Press Council encourage reporting which will increase public awareness about what could be done to prevent suicide and include references to places for help. Needless to say, none of the news stories about the recent suicides in Guyana did not include or conclude with the actions readers could take to prevent suicide.”
Indeed media in Guyana has not been displaying social responsibility to the extent that has become critically needed. There should be less attempts to dramatize suicide cases (and sex crimes, domestic abuse and the like) and the reportage should include information on preventative actions, roles of families and friends in helping victims to deal with these issues and to obtain access to help (including phone numbers and other contact info) and where appropriate the role of the legal structure in addressing these issues. Also, media should desist from publishing photos of suicide victims as this only adds to pain and agony of the survivors – families and friends.
Also, media should regularly publish or broadcast messages that bring about awareness, focus on discouraging these actions and offer strategies that would help to prevent suicide, abuse and so on as well as to ensure that it offers correct information rather than add to the confusion. For example the Kaieteur News ended a recent editorial by asking whether suicide is preventable, rather than actually presenting the evidence that affirmatively answers that question.
The fact is that evidence abounds that individuals, organizations and nations have succeeded in saving lives and reducing suicides. Perhaps more importantly is that a tremendous body of research indicates that generally those with suicidal mindsets do not want to die; they just want the pain and agony to go away.
For one, there are specific frameworks implemented by various nations that have been successful in reducing suicides significantly. The Shri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction, which The Caribbean Voice has been propagating, reduced pesticide suicide in that nation by about 50% in a decade or so. Other models with significant successes were developed in Brazil, New Zealand, Japan and Western Samoa, among other places.
Also, individuals such as Sergeant Kevin R. Briggs, a former California Highway Patrol Officer, persuaded upwards of two hundred people from taking the fatal plunge at the Golden Gate Bridge that crosses the San Francisco Bay in the USA. And Australian, Don Ritchie, has dissuaded about 160 individuals from taking the suicidal jump at the cliff known as ‘The Gap’. Many similar experiences are documented, especially relating to counselors and suicide prevention activists and NGOs, (including The Caribbean Voice) whose proactive interventions have saved teeming lives around the world.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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