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Mental Health

Suicide: These Are The 4 Things Filmmakers Must Not Do, Says WHO

The UN Health Agency, has advised filmmakers to be wary of what they depict when they make films on suicide and how they passed their message

This is part of its advisory on mental health.

In a tweet on its official Twitter handle, WHO listed 5 things filmmakers should do and 4 things to avoid while making films on suicide.

The UN Health Agency advised filmmakers to use appropriate language, saying that “people die by/from suicide” not by commiting suicide, thus tacitly advising them to stop using the phrase “commit suicide.”

WHO Do’s for Filmmakers

  • Include characters & narratives displaying resilience & effective ways of dealing with mental health problems;
  • Outline how to obtain help from support services;
  • Show the positive value of support from friends, family & others;
  • Use appropriate language (people die by/from suicide, they don’t commit suicide!);
  • Consult suicide prevention & communications experts, mental health professionals & persons with lived experience.
  • Provide parental guidance for contents aimed at viewers younger 18

WHO Don’ts for Filmmakers on Suicide

  • Avoid depicting the act or method of suicide;
  • Base storylines on real life;
  • Include potential warning signs of suicide & how to cope with them;
  • Display the complexity & wider issues associated with suicide.

Mental health has become a major issue globally, and Africans have had her own share of the global threat.

Suicide, a mental health issue, is a global public health issue that occurs throughout the life of man.

“Suicide is a serious global public health problem that occurs throughout the lifespan. Measures that can be taken to prevent suicide include reducing access to means and responsible reporting of suicide by journalists. “- WHO

To help film makers in their content creation, WHO has created published a resource for film makers and it is available for freed download on their website.

Concerning the free resource material, WHO says:

“This resource booklet provides information for filmmakers and others involved in the creation, development and production of content for screen (e.g. films, series, television programmes) or stage (e.g. theatrical productions) to ensure that portraying suicide on screen and stage is accurate and appropriate.”

WHO warned that like media reporting, portrayal of suicide in fils can have imitation effect. Consequently, inappropriate portrayal of suicide away from reality “can contribute to public misunderstandings of the nature of suicide, nurture myths and hinder effective suicide prevention,” WHO notes.

WHO data shows that 1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds globally and about 70% of this figure occured in low and middle income countries, including African countries, in 2016.

Suicide is preventable and filmmakers can help use their platform to help reduce the risk from suicide and the enormous benefit of seeking support from others.

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