This morning the NZ Herald has published a lead article that should cause all of us who care about vulnerable and isolated members of our community to be extremely concerned.
The article presents a favourable view of the very tragic act of suicide, and even encourages people to read excerpts from the suicide note that the victim left behind which promotes suicide as a positive thing.
But clearly someone at the NZ Herald knows that this article is extremely irresponsible – how else do you explain the list of eleven different suicide prevention/emergency help phone numbers that are listed at the bottom of the story?
Yes, you did read that correctly – the NZ Herald has published a story which portrays a fearful act of suicide in a glowing and positive manner, and then included at the bottom of the article is a list of suicide prevention numbers.
I am truly astounded that a supposedly reputable media organisation would allow their column space to be given to a pro-suicide activist to use as a mouthpiece for a very dangerous ideology – one that is clearly dangerous enough to require a list of anti-suicide helplines to be promoted along with the story.
Still unsure how irresponsible this really is?
Just imagine if the tragic suicide of Robin Williams, approximately a fortnight ago, had been glamourised by the NZ Herald the way that suicide is glamourised in this story today.
The NZ Herald don’t have any excuse for today’s actions either, because just eight days ago they published an article on the latest NZ suicide statistics which opened with the following sentence: “New Zealand’s youth suicide rate has dropped by a quarter – but suicides among the elderly are rising as old people are increasingly isolated from their families.“
That’s right – just days after covering the growing and serious problem of suicide amongst the elderly in NZ, and acknowledging that isolation is contributing to these needless deaths, the NZ Herald runs an article promoting and glamourising suicide by an elderly person.
What makes this situation even worse is the fact that it reeks of pro suicide-by-euthansia activism. The story has been given top billing, but it lacks proper journalistic balance and the suicide victim doesn’t even live in NZ and nor did she take her life here (she was a former NZ resident who lived in Canada, which is where the suicide took place.)
If you care about suicide prevention, like I do, then you should be angry that our nation’s largest newspaper has acted so socially irresponsibly and seemingly gone out of their way to present elderly suicide in a favourable and positive light.
If you need support:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (8 am to 12 midnight) – 0800 111 757
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Samaritans – 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)
Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross-posted from Brendan Malone’s ‘The Leading Edge’ blog