Health Department conducts training programme for media personnel on Suicides, Tuberculosis, Drug Abuse & Mental Health

Gangtok, 30 Aug (IPR): Health & Family Welfare Department organized a sensitization training programme on Suicides, Tuberculosis, Drug Abuse and Mental Health for media personnel at the auditorium hall of New STNM Multispecialty Hospital today.

The programme was commenced with a welcome speech by Dr. Sonam Lasopa followed by talks and elaboration on early identification of mental illness, current trends in suicide & reporting of suicide by Dr. Bibhusan Dahal, Psychiatrist.

He said that the youngsters are the most vulnerable group that commits suicides.

“Suicide is a condition/situation not an illness which can be prevented. The majority of people who commits suicide are between the age group of 15 and 19 years. Awareness has to be created among family members and friends on prevention of suicide. They should be very sensitive and observe the behaviors of the person who is inclined to commit suicide. The media, society and the community should work together to prevent this social evil,” he added.

Dr Bhawana, Medical Officer elaborated on the prevention and control of Tuberculosis. She informed about the DOTS or Directly Observed Treatment Short course which is the internationally recommended strategy for TB control that has been recognized as a highly efficient and cost-effective strategy.

Mr. K.C. Nima also elaborated on the role of Crises Centre Helpline and highlighted its activities such as:

  • 4 years in service attending 254 calls
  • Home Visits
  • Hospital Patient Attendant
  • Counseling in all Forms
  • Phone Answered in Three Rings
  • Counseling to MDR Patients at New STNM Hospital
  • Strive to be the change.

He also urged media persons to aware the masses about the 24×7 Crises Centre Suicide Prevention Helpline Number i.e 18003453225/03592-202111 and 104 where anyone can call and seek for help.

The main objective of the programme was:

  • To create awareness among the general masses about prevention of suicide through authentic report released by media
  • To motivate students and people to create awareness among family, friends and peer group members on prevention of suicide

During the interaction session, discussions were made to improve collaboration with the health system and civil society and the need for broader and more effective reporting on TB.

Responsible reporting takes the opportunity to educate the public about suicide. There are many misconceptions about suicide, and the media can play a role in dispelling various myths.

The factors that lead an individual to commit suicide are usually multiple and complex, and should not be reported in a simplistic, dramatic or sensational way. Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event. Mental illness is a strong predictor of suicide.

Also, impulsiveness plays an important role. Mental disorders, such as depression and substance use disorders may influence a person’s ability to cope with various life stressors and interpersonal conflicts.

Cultural, genetic and socio – economic factors need to be taken into account as well. Almost always, it will be misleading to attribute a suicide to an individual event like exam failure or relationship breakdown particularly in circumstances where the death has not yet been fully investigated.

Suicide should certainly not be depicted as a means of coping with personal problems. The complexity of the act has a devastating impact for family members and friends, often leaving them searching for causes, wondering whether there had been signs they may have missed, mourning their loss, and feeling guilty, angry, stigmatized or abandoned.

Reports of suicide that explore some of these effects will further serve to educate the public. Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems, perhaps more than anyone, media professionals recognize the importance of language in conveying nuanced meanings. Language which conveys that suicide is a significant public health problem will serve to educate the community. Such language should not sensationalize suicide.

Terms like ‘increasing rates’ should be used in preference to hyperbolic phrases like ‘suicide epidemic’, and caution should be exercised in using the word ‘suicide’ in headlines. Language that misinforms the public about suicide or normalizes it should be avoided, informed by the resource persons.

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