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  • Writer's pictureJeff McHugh

How Not To Talk About Suicide

Updated: Jul 8, 2018

Photo: Peabody Awards

Did you know that suicides increased 10% after Robin Williams died?

What will happen to your listeners after the sad loss of Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade this week?

Experts are sounding the alarm that media personalities -- this means YOU -- can have a direct effect on minimizing suicide contagion.

The Unintentional Consequences Of Suicide Coverage by Alia E. Dastagir from USA Today includes specific changes you can make that will save lives when your show discusses celebrity suicides.

Read carefully and prepare to say “wow.”

· Avoid discussing the method. After Robin William’s death by suffocation, suicides using that same method increased 32%.

· Don’t read the suicide note. Sensationalizing details can push at-risk listeners to think about following the same path.

· Make it about mental health, not the individual. Take the spotlight off the person who died and focus it on how widespread suicide is. Example: There are 126 suicides every day in the US.

· Give suicide hotline info frequently. Experts have seen a positive effect when media outlets replace the gory details with “here’s how to get help.”

Thanks to Josh Spiegel of 98 Rock Baltimore for sharing this article with us. Here are hotline numbers and links for you to share online, in social media and on-air.

U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online.

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