Not Sensationalizing Cyber-Suicide: Safe and Effective Messaging

Yesterday, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center hosted a webinar on Suicide Prevention among LGBT Youth which included over 600 participants. The webinar was free and lasted 1.5 hours.  The content was research based, informative, and timely, and provided some really useful “takeaways.”

The 3 presenters were very professional. Dave Reynolds, MPH, CPH,  is Senior Public Policy and Research Manager at The Trevor Project. Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project.   Effie Malley, MPA, is Director of the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide at the American Association of Suicidology.  All were very dynamic and hard hitting on their topics.

There were many great takaways, but one of the most interesting was Dave Reynolds’ presentation on “Safe and Effective Messaging” by media and others (including all of us who relate to stakeholders).  Dave indicated that “Suicide attempt rates increase when: The number of stories about suicide increases, a particular death is reported at length in many outlets—especially as the  “opening piece,” headlines about specific deaths are framed dramatically and/or provide great detail, or the story portrays a martyr.”

For very helpful suggestions for DOs and DON’Ts of safe and effective messaging (for example, DO encourage help-seeking behavior, emphasize individual and collective responsibility, focus on positive terms; DON’T use the term ”epidemic,” over simplify bullying, don’t use detailed descriptions of suicide, don’t present suicide as a common and normal response to normal life events, etc.), go to their online presentation and see also their Safe Messaging document.

If they give the webinar again, get in early because it filled up quickly.

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