The Xavier Ateneo Department of Psychology urged the media to exercise prudence and empathy in reporting mental health problems and suicide-related deaths.
“As herald of truth, mass media are important contributors to personal, interpersonal, community, and even national discourse on many relevant issues like mental health, suicide, and the stigma around them,” the statement read.
“What they report as facts can profoundly influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to mental health. For instance, exposure to news reports about suicide predicts suicide contagion, with young individuals and persons diagnosed with mental health problems particularly vulnerable to these reports,” it added.
Citing recent social media posts of local news reports about self-harm behaviors and suicide, the Department decried the dissemination of personal information about “these sensitive and extremely stigmatized issues” as well as the dissemination of the personal information of the victims.
It urged mass media workers to treat “these issues with confidentiality and respect” and to be allies in suicide prevention and the promotion of positive mental health and well-being.
As mental health problems and suicide continue to be taboo subjects, the Department appealed to mass media workers to “make informed and concerned efforts to discuss mental health in a professional, respectful, and caring manner.”
“Let us help the stigma surrounding conversations about mental health by emphasizing stories of hope and recovery,” it said.