Friday, September 24, 2021

Mental health experts urge sensitivity after Sarawak suicide

They also warn against sharing footage of the man's death, saying it could cause suicide contagion.

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Mental health experts in Sarawak have urged the public to stop sharing a clip showing the suicide of a man in the state, warning that it could raise the risk of “suicide contagion” or emulation of the act.

In a statement, the Sarawak Mental Health Association also called on people to avoid viewing the video, saying such material should be reported instead of reposted.

“Suicide contagion is a real danger because such videos are also incredibly traumatising for the person’s loved ones and have a profound negative impact on others who are struggling too,” it said.

The police said the man in the video, a lawyer, was believed to have been suffering from severe depression following a divorce last month.

Dr Ravivarma Rao Panirselvam, a clinical psychiatrist at Hospital Miri, said addressing the issue of suicide is a complex task.

He said it was important for people to educate themselves on the matter before they could offer their support.

“Suicide is complex,” he told MalaysiaNow. “There is no single cause for suicide. To talk about this issue, we must use a well-moderated forum to offer a safe space.”

He said the public could offer support by engaging with health experts, for example.

“We must be aware of each platform’s community guidelines,” he added.

He also urged the media to play a role through the ethical reporting of such issues in order to raise awareness.

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