3. Letter: Suicide in the media

Dear Public

A lack of suicide discourse together with an unwarranted moratorium on media reporting of suicide (in some countries) may be responsible for the media’s shyness in engaging in holistic discussion of suicide. Specifically, the two examples below demonstrate uncritical reporting but unwillingness to report rebuttals:-

  1. On page 4 of The Australian newspaper (8/7/2019), Sean Parnell reported the recent announcement by the Australian Prime Minister under the heading, “PM aims for goal of zero suicides”. We responded to the Prime Minister via Letters to the Editor, but unsurprisingly we were not published. As reported before (Pridmore & Shahtahmasebi, 2018) the media’s interests seem to lie elsewhere rather than critical reporting of suicide. The newspaper article was critically reviewed in an article published in DHH (Pridmore et al. 2019) in which the points raised in the Prime Minister’s announcement were debated.
  2. An article in The Economist, “Why suicide is falling around the world…” (Nov 24)
    illustrated by a falling graph line, is incomplete and misleading. The title implies the total suicide numbers of the world are falling and it offers as evidence flimsy data such as the fact that we are seeing fewer forced marriages in Asia and reduced alcohol consumption in Russia (both of which can end in suicide). Our response to the points raised in the article was not published and the Economist did not engage at all. A longer version of our response was published in the DHH.

Professor Saxby Pridmore

University of Tasmania, Australia

Said Shahtahmasebi PhD

Editor, Dynamics of Human Health