How to talk about suicide

How to talk about suicide

COLUMBUS, OH (WTOL) - The discussion of suicide is not always one that people are comfortable talking about.

Because of this, it might be unclear how to talk about or report on suicide.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services wanted to find a way for journalists to increase suicide awareness and broadcast positive messages of prevention and recovery.

They enlisted the help of Nationwide Children's hospital in Columbus and journalism students at Ohio University.

With the help of suicide survivors and loved ones of those who have died, the hospital and school created tools designed to assist reporters and editors.

One of the main takeaways is that it is important to frame the story in the right away.

Suicide survivors and loved ones want the public to know that there was more to the person than the fact they died from suicide. It is important to focus on their life and show pictures of them being engaged in life instead of looking depressed.

"If the media were to do a story right now about my son's suicide and they left it completely up to me, the story would certainly be about his life," said mother Denise Meine-Graham.

But that's not all.

It is also important to be educated on what to do if you suspect that a loved one might be contemplating suicide. Graham said people need to know the basics of how to help a loved one who's feeling suicidal.

"Don't be afraid to ask the question, 'are you thinking of suicide? I'm worried about you'. People need permission to have those basic conversation," said Graham.

The materials designed to assist reporters say that the media can help with that by increasing awareness about how to identify those at risk for suicide and include warning signs, and to cover community events to prevent suicide.

"You just have to start with asking a question, 'do you want to kill yourself?'," said suicide survivor Dese'Rae Stage. "You have the power to save a life."

For the list of journalistic guidelines, visit here.

You can also get more information about Ohio's suicide prevention efforts by visiting their website.

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