Celebrity Suicide: Talk but responsibly!

This year had been too tough on us, the world is gone upside down for many of us. This major change in our lives is creating number of mental health conditions and we can see increase in number of suicide incidences as well. Unfortunately, grief of losing someone is visible more when a fellow human who is celebrity by profession and admired by many, dies by suicide.

Constant flow of information on celebrity suicide on social media timeline, television stories and newspaper articles can act as trigger for vulnerable individuals who are struggling to keep themselves safe from their suicidal thoughts. It also can be the tipping point for them, which gives them ‘permission’ to act on what they had so far just been thinking about. Not just many studies suggests but our(Mental Health Professional) own experience says, there are always high number to individuals reaching out to us with symptoms of Depression, Anxiety or suicidal ideation after news of celebrity suicide.

Although, engaging yourself directly with this topic in a public forum is a step in the right direction towards de-stigmatizing mental disorder and suicide. but we also need to be mindful to talk about it in a responsible way, and do not sensationalize the news of suicide. Few things to keep in mind:

  • Pictures of deceased individuals or videos of live suicide attempt should not be published.
  • Suicide notes, text messages, social media posts, and emails of the deceased person and/or their family members should not be published.
  • Don’t give details about the method or location of any suicide death or attempt.
  • Don’t speculate about reasons. Verify your facts from multiple sources when the reasons for a suicide death or attempt are not clear.
  • Don’t mention suicide as horrific, or unfortunate events. This increases stigma related to suicide.
  • Always share contact no of helpline services provider in your country along with any information or news you share on suicide.

There are many wrong phases one may use to express yourselves unconsciously, such as:

Problematic PhaseAppropriate Phase
“Committed suicide”
“Successful suicide”
“Died by suicide”
“Took their own life”
“Ended their own life”
“Suicide epidemic”“Increasing rates”
“Higher rates”
“Concerning rates”
“Failed suicide”
“Suicide bid”
“Made and attempt on his life”
“Suicide attempt”
“Non-fatal attempt”

After looking at all these news in your timeline or TV if you feel anxious and overwhelmed. There are few productive ways of responding. Such as:

  • Logout from your social media for a day, or switch off your phone if needed
  • Avoid watching news on any other digital mode or on newspaper and inform others to avoid talking about it with you
  • Practice meditation or deep breathing exercise or indulge yourself in creative activity
  • In case of emergency. Reach out to helpline service or mental health professional immediately

Also, remember it takes more than urging individuals with mental health conditions to “get help” on social media. We need to change the way we think and speak about suicide to make it easier to connect and help those who are struggling. Next time don’t wait for a celebrity to lose his life by suicide to talk about suicide, always look to open up a dialogue about how all of us together can make change and save lives. We all have a role to play in eradicating stigma through our words and actions, both online and offline.

A real life story of a suicide survivor and motivator for you: Rita(Name changed) was struggling with depression and drug abuse for very long time. Too many of tragic incidences made her depression severe and she started getting thoughts of self-harm. She attempted suicide many times in next few months and then realized she need professional help. She reached out to a psychiatrist and now it’s been more than 20+ years she is out of that painful phase and now motivating others to learn that their life matters.

Here are some Helpline service providers available in India for immediate counseling in case of emergency.

Check out my 4 part YouTube video series on Suicide & it’s prevention:

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