Q1) Dr. Vitelli, you`ve been blogging on “Media Spotlight” a few years now. What is your general approach when it comes to creating a new entry?
I try to keep to a regular schedule of one post a week, usually focusing on an interesting new research study that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
Q2) Have you noticed changes in the media in those years concerning the way suicide is spoken about?
Media outlets are usually more careful about how suicides are being reported, especially given the very real concern about copycat deaths. For the most part, suicides are much less likely to be sensationalized and responsible news outlets follow recommended guidelines about how such deaths should be reported.
Q3) Do you think social media can help get rid of suicide being a taboo topic and if so, how?
It’s hard to say, the rise in anonymous trolling and cyber bullying has meant that vulnerable people can face attacks like never before. While people contemplating suicide have access to resources that can help, the risks they face online are greater as well.
Q4) Feeling connected is an important protective factor when it comes to suicide. But looking at pro-suicide-websites, isn`t this exactly what makes them so dangerous?
Again, it depends on the site. Some of these sites are legitimate sources of emotional support and guidance that can help people on the edge find help. Others are much more irresponsible and destructive. Which is what makes the Internet such a minefield.
Q5) Have you been following the recent stories about the “Blue Whale Challenge”? What are your thoughts about that?
I really hadn’t been aware of it until you brought it to my attention. While it will likely fade away like most new trends, hopefully, it won’t cause too much harm.
Q6) What might be going on in the mind of a young person contemplating suicide?
Everybody contemplating suicide will do it for different reasons. When young people feel they have no hope or that nothing will get better, they may well decide to end it all. Even for young people who reach out to others, they might find themselves dealing with denial or people who are unprepared to deal with a suicidal person.
Q7) How can social media help prevent suicide?
Much like in real life, recognizing that people are in pain and trying to help them cope with that pain may be what they need most. There are limits to what can be done online however, this is why suicidal people need to be encouraged to seek help as soon as possible.
Q8) How can we as friends or family recognize that our beloved one is on the edge of ending their own life? What can we do to help?
There are good online sites that can be useful such as this one: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recognizing-signs-of-suicide
Also, when dealing with someone who is suicidal, it is essential that they be encouraged to seek professional help as soon as possible. Even offering to go with them when they make that first connection with a professional can have a powerful influence.