5 Ways Media Falls Short on Suicide Prevention

watching tv

Note: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life matters.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year, nearly 1 million people die by suicide, which is equal to 1 in every 100,000 people. While many people don’t realize it, media does play a key role in the way suicide is perceived, discussed, and thought about. For example, shows like “13 Reasons Why” received a lot of backlash from the mental health community because the storyline of the show seemed to almost “glamorize” suicide – no preventative measures were provided until viewers spoke up. There are many ways in which media doesn’t take the right stance on suicide prevention:

  1. Not providing enough prevention-related talk throughout
  2. Using suicide as a dramatic storyline without recovery stories or showing people who sought help instead
  3. Creating songs that promote feelings of carelessness and impulsivity
  4. Targeting populations that are extremely vulnerable to these messages in order to get more traction for views, likes, etc.
  5. Mirroring stereotypes that are part of a culture rather than using media as a pathway for new perceptions and ways of talking about a topic like suicide

For example, it’s not uncommon to consider depression as a common factor in suicide. However, this isn’t always true – and it doesn’t always appear to be true, either. Some of the most seasoned, professional and “happy-go-lucky” people may be struggling internally with existentialism – while we all have thoughts of this from time to time, those with suicidal thoughts often weigh heavily on the belief that life would be much better without them, or that life is too painful to continue on – making it that much more important that we spread the message of love, support, and seeking help when it’s needed.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) argues that we must stand for injustice, build momentum by uniting with organizations and other people who want to provide support, and give a voice of hope to people on the road to recovery. It’s never too late.  

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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