News of the 17th suspected suicide in South Wales has been quickly followed by a plea for the media to adopt a more measured approach to the story.

Both the Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Dave Morris, and the parents of one of the teenagers who took his own life believe the glare of the media spotlight is now contributing to the pressures many young people in the area are facing.

The police have also ruled out any sort of link between the cases in the Bridgend local authority area, dismissing repeated claims of internet pacts and bogus suggestions that social networking sites are at the heart of the cluster of suicides.

The latest case comes as a suicide prevention strategy for the Bridgend area is launched. Welsh health minister Edwina Hart has also written to all Assembly Members saying that she is accelerating work already underway for a suicide prevention action plan for Wales.

Hopefully this will include involvement of organisations like the Samaritans, who possess the skills and experience in dealing with such incidents. It is this kind of joined up thinking that the situation requires and which the local Coroner Philip Walters has been urging for some time.

It is also important that the plea from ACC Morris and the bereaved parents is taken onboard.

I can see no value whatsoever in stories like this, other than to add to the ignorance and mounting hysteria that surrounds this worrying story.

The fact that a reward is being offered to prove the bogus internet link does little to help the situation and could well jeopardise the efforts of groups like the Samaritans and others attempting to deal with the problems that exist in this area.

There clearly are issues that need to be tackled in such communities, but the glare of a national spotlight tends to distract attention from where it is most needed rather than help in raise awareness.

 (Footnote: The request for more considered reporting has been backed by researchers from Oxford University and the Press Complaints Commission) 

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5 responses »

  1. Nick Scott Donald says:

    As with issues like binge drinking and paedophilia, this seems to me to be an example of “Scapegoats Over Awareness”.

    But why should the advice of people with knowledge and experience of these things be saught, when the media and others might have a little theory of their own to fit the evidence?

    Or perhaps it’s a case of a collective Moral Panic attack?

  2. Paul Groves says:

    Absolutely. It is bandwagon jumping and it is the media attempting to set an agenda without checking the facts.
    I thought long and hard about including a link to the story of the £5,000 reward, but decided I would because I found it such an odious piece. Also, as the story was in the local evening newspaper – which really should know better – I wanted to show this isn’t just the national media at fault.

  3. bootlegmarkchapman says:

    I can’t remember, ever, such a ham-fisted representation of a story as has been given this whole run of events. As with the (obviously very different) Steve Wright story, there is a very real feeling that people are sat on the sidelines waiting for the next exciting instalment. While they wait, they make stuff up, they distort, they misrepresent. And that’s without even going into the whole “It’s so awful, they seem to be attracted by the celebrity of death, let’s give it the front page and make disapproving noises in Bebo’s direction” nonsense.

    It’s grief-porn, and a complete avoidance of any worthwhile reporting. It renders me nigh-on speechless with frustration and incomprehension.

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  5. […] with the deaths of so many young people in the Bridgend county borough area, we’ve seen some appalling coverage – not just in print, but on television, online and on the […]

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