The Ministry of Education is looking at several measures as it moves to curb the number of students committting suicide. The move comes amid a spike in suicides in recent weeks.
The measures were examined and discussed at a meeting of education stakeholders at the Ministry of Education this morning April 12, 2011. The meeting was called by Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness.
Among the decisions reached by the meeting was the creation of a round-the-clock hotline for troubled students and persons concerned about students at risk of suicide. A team is to look at the resources available for the creation and manning of the lines.
The Ministry is to look at its standard operating policy in respect of suicides and other crises and see how these can be improved and strengthened. The existing partnerships with various governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations and other entities are to be strengthened to improve the response to suicides, attempted suicides and children at risk of committing suicide. The Ministry of Education is to look at getting psychiatrists, psychologists and other service providers to be more closely linked in the provision of assistance to troubled, at-risk-of-suicide children.
An instrument is to be developed to identify and track children at risk of suicide, thus giving the Ministry of Education a chance to intervene early, thus preventing any attempt at suicide.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education has purchased more than a thousand copies of the book ‘Confronting Suicide: Helping Teens at Risk’, for distribution to schools. Teachers are to be trained to apply the techniques and principles outlined in the book, to enable its effective use in schools.
The Ministry urges the media to be very careful in its reporting on suicides. Research finds an increase in suicide by readers or viewers when:
The number of stories about individual suicides increases
A particular death is reported at length or in many stories
The story of an individual death by suicide is placed on the front page or at the beginning of a broadcast
The headlines about specific suicide deaths are dramatic (for example: "Boy, 10, Kills Himself Over Poor Grades")
Recommendations for language:
• Whenever possible, it is preferable to avoid referring to suicide in the headline.
Unless the suicide death took place in public, the cause of death should be reported in the body of the story and not in the headline.
• In deaths that will be covered nationally, consideration of how they died could be reported in the body of the article.
• In the body of the story, it is preferable to describe the deceased as "having died by suicide," rather than as "a suicide," or having "committed suicide." The latter two expressions reduce the person to the mode of death, or connote criminal or sinful behavior.
• Contrasting "suicide deaths" with "non-fatal attempts" is preferable to using terms such as "successful," "unsuccessful" or "failed."
(This information is taken from Reporting on Suicide: Recommendations for the Media from the website sprc.org)
Issued by: The Ministry of Education