Guyana urges media workers to report responsibly on suicides

GEORGETOWN – Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has told media practitioners that they have an important role in preventing suicides in Guyana, a country which has among the highest suicide rates in the world.

Anthony told a two day training workshop that the government has taken steps to prevent the instances of suicide in the country by promoting prevention.

However, he told the audience that media professionals must be responsible when disseminating information related to suicide and mental health.

The workshop is being hosted by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and is focusing on reporting responsibly in the context of mental health, suicide and trauma.

In 2019, Guyana had the second highest suicide rate in the world at an estimate mortality rate of 40.3 deaths per 100 000 people. In addition, there are approximately 20 000 people battling several mental illnesses in Guyana.

The Suicide Prevention Act which was passed in the National Assembly in 2022 ensures responsible reporting. This includes charging persons or an entity for revealing the names of victims who died by suicide, the method they used and even the location where it occurred. These are important factors that must be considered when reporting suicide cases and even mental health.

“We have to be careful about what we’re publishing. We have to be careful. This is not censorship, this is being responsible and I think there is a big difference from censorship and being responsible because we all live in this society and we want those numbers to go down,” the Health Minister told the workshop.

He said that the media can bridge the information gap between medical professionals and the general public in the areas of mental health, suicide prevention and even other health-related issues.

“This is important, whether its mental health, whether its what we promote and what we eat, it is something that we ought to look at,” he said. (CMC)

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