Death - Are we encouraging it?
With the recent cluster of suicides in the Bridgend area of Wales (UK) and the latest announced on the 20th of February as the 17th young person to fall victim to the tragic trend over the last 12 months, many questions are being asked of the causes. Is the internet to blame or should the media be held accountable in some way for “glamorising” the issue as the parents of the last couple of victims have claimed?
Interestingly the suicide rate in Wales has apparently not changed much over the last seven years whilst the rates of other UK countries has dropped, most notably Scotland’s suicide rates, which were at one point significantly higher than Wales. The reality is there doesn’t seem to be an actual rise in suicide cases as the media coverage may be leading the public to believe, the recent spate of reported and covered suicides have been fuelled by connections and apparent links between the young people in Bridgend but there is a clear bias occurring in the media, unsurprisingly.
Suicide is a global issue and is among the three leading causes of death in people of both sexes aged 15-44, which does not include suicide attempt figures which are more than triple that of reported suicides. Going back to the suicides in Bridgend and the questions being raised, one figure that really stands out for me is the ratio of men to women, I’m not going to ask why more men commit suicide than women. According to statistics women attempt suicide more often than men, at least 50% more. But men seem to be more successful in committing suicide than women. Bridgend is a prime example of that, 12 of the 17 suicide victims were male, whilst only 5 were female; it’s also relevant to mention that recently there was a thwarted alleged suicide attempt by a female in the same area.
Can I take this opportunity to mention (in case you haven’t already noticed) I have intentionally avoided using the victims names and their images because whilst I don’t entirely agree, I do believe the media has sensationalised this serious issue to a certain degree, just as I believe the internet has a normalizing effect which could also have a part to play in this "trend" of suicides and other anomic, egoistic and altruistically destructive behaviours. Its sad that so many people feel their lives are not worth living but I think the focus should be on raising the issue of awareness and supporting the living, giving them the skills to recognise that their lives are precious and supporting them to make the most of it.
If we insist on glamorizing and sensationalising such issues we will only continue to fuel the fire in which we’re currently bathing the future of our world in.