Our inability to address the issue of guns exacts a cost.
There are about twice as many suicides annually using guns (more than 21,000 in 2014) as there are homicides using guns.
Too often, we assume that there’s nothing we can do. In 2011, for the first time in more than 20 years, more teenagers died from suicide than homicide. Our response to them hasn’t adequately acknowledged their progression. The World Health Organization has a guide for how media professionals should talk about the subject.
They should avoid sensationalizing it or normalizing it.
The health care system needs to strengthen access to and delivery of mental health care, as well as improve our ability to identify and support teenagers at risk. We need to make things safer for teenagers, which includes reducing their access to the means they might likely use in a suicide attempt.
Also important but more difficult, we need to promote connectedness and limit isolation.
In the book, she overdoses on sleeping pills, and it takes place “offscreen.”Research shows that when the media focuses on the suicide of an entertainment or political celebrity, the copycat effect is much larger.
This is even more true when the media focuses on the means by which the suicide occurred.
The best thing we can do for teens at risk is to prevent them from cutting themselves off from others.
We have been failing to meet these goals too often when it comes to the media, guns and community.