18 May 2022

EDITORIAL: Suicide is a silent killer left to rumour and whispers across this country

This week's editorial

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

File photo

Thousands of people across the Premier County took part in this year’s Darkness Into Light event in the early hours of Saturday morning last.

It’s an initiative where walks/runs are held all over Ireland with the aim of raising funds for the suicide prevention charity Pieta.

The pictures spread across six pages of this week’s Nationalist reveal a show of solidarity with the charity and all that it represents.

But in this country, we appear to have failed to tackle the issue. We continue to stigmatise mental health illness and successive Government’s have paid lip service to mental health services.

Suicide is an issue that has affected almost every town and village in this country.

It is a silent killer - in that it is rare such a death is consigned to anything other than rumour and whispers.

Reporting guidelines ensure the media don’t report on suicide and most media - in being sensitive to the family that is grieving - will often describe the death as a “shock to the community”.

Research evidence shows that certain types of media depictions, such as explicitly describing a method , sensational and excessive reporting , can lead to imitational suicidal behaviour among vulnerable people.

The exception in the media has been murder suicides - which are usually widely reported as “murder suicide”.

If a local person took their own life this publication would be unlikely to report on it as it is considered indelicate and we would never cause offence by exacerbating the sense of loss.

So, suicide in a way is confined to gossip amongst the local community. But is this inhibiting the discourse around the issue?

We all know of suicide cases in our own locality and what happened or how the person took their own life. And yet we seldom find out the why.

We seldom hear from the family as to its impact or the questions they have.

DIL is a truly wonderful initiative and it brings self-harm, suicide and mental illness into the light one sunrise in a year.

But are we doing enough to truly address the issue for the other 364 days?

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