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The dangers of speculation in the reporting of suicide

As a follow up to her first guest blog, Jennifer from Mindframe takes a look at why the media must be careful when speculating about possible suicide incidents.

While we know that excluding graphic detail helps minimise risk to vulnerable people the circumstances around their death doesn’t tell us anything about why a person is vulnerable in the first place. This is why speculation is not advised in the guidelines.

Speculation is the act of assuming, or forming a theory without firm evidence. We know suicide is extremely complex and it is incredibly difficult to clearly associate one single factor being the cause of a suicide death.

The cause of suicidal thoughts or feelings of hopelessness, is more often than not, caused by many different factors. Many areas of someone’s life is likely to be acting as a source of stress, so to say that the last impacting factor of someone’s life was the sole causing factor, is inaccurate.

The way suicidal thoughts impact the mind is different for each person. Speculation around the cause of a death, backed up by memorialising, romanticising or glorifying the issues can appear to someone who is experiencing similar life stresses, that suicide is an option.

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Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2019: Recovery is possible

Established in 1986, Schizophrenia Awareness Week (SAW) aims to reduce stigma towards people affected by schizophrenia, bust myths, and promote help-seeking by people living with schizophrenia and their carers.

This year, Schizophrenia Awareness Week will be held from the 19 to 26 May 2019. This coincides with the week of World Schizophrenia Awareness Day (24 May).

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Mourning, Coffee - A guest blog by artist, Bill Hawkins.

bill1._20190523-062109_1 Bill Hawkins

Artist Bill Hawkins gives us an incredible insight into what it is like to live with mental illness, and how he has found light in art therapy. You can view Bills work, along with a range of other talented artists at The Dax Centre until June 7th.

Oh… why did I say yes to writing a blog post for Sane Australia?

I cannot be bothered! I can barely get out of bed, let alone write something. From the moment I woke up I felt terrible, I wish I was still asleep. Sitting on the cusp of lucidity, half-awake was when the metamorphosis began…

As soon as I became fully conscious I transformed into a cockroach. Commands from a higher being bled into my world, an internal daemon dictating actions to my recently animated corpse.

This spirit screams hideously terrifying things into my ears, tremendously sickening things, absolutely ghastly things like; “Get out of bed”, “Put on clothes”, “Finish that article you have been putting off” and the worst command of all… “Go to work!”.

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Reporting on suicide incidents responsibly with Mindframe

We spoke with Jennifer from Mindframe, about how the media should be reporting on suicide to ensure it is safe, responsible and accurate.


What are the rules on reporting suicide?


We know through centuries of observation and hundreds of research articles, that discussing suicide can be harmful if too much information is given. This applies not just in news media, but in entertainment media as well.


As any good storyteller will tell you, be it on page, stage or the big screen – there is great skill in being able to paint a picture that invites a reader to imagine the finer details for themselves. Whether a story is to entertain or inform a reader, evidence demonstrates that discussing the loss of life by suicide can be harmful to people who are vulnerable.


Currently there are no set ‘rules’ around this but we do have well-supported guidance, which helps us understand how we can minimise harm and copy-cat behaviour. People who are experiencing thoughts of suicide are at a higher risk of being negatively impacted when there is graphic detail of how someone has taken their own life. Using stigma-free language and information that is void of explicit detail can still tell a story and is a safer way to present the topic of suicide.

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Living with borderline personality disorder: Aaron's story

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Following story as told to Fairfax media.

Living with complex mental illness is hard enough, but the accompanying stigma and isolation make symptoms worse and act like a handbrake on recovery.

That was the case for Aaron Fornarino, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at age 14 and eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). He spent his teenage years and young adulthood in and out of psychiatric wards and foster homes, where he struggled with self-harm, anxiety, depression and impulsiveness.

“It was just a really chaotic time,” says Fornarino, now a 37-year-old public servant in Adelaide.

“Borderline personality disorder wasn’t taken very seriously back then. I was sort of treated like an attention-seeker or a pest.”

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Five ways to reduce stigma in the workplace

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Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. It can occur due to misunderstanding as well as prejudice. For people living with mental illness, stigma can lead to a lack of support or compassion, leaving them feeling misunderstood and marginalised.   Stigma is sadly prevalent in the workplace. Many workers are r...
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Nine great books about living with mental illness

Illustration of an open book that is also a park
Reading can be a tremendous source of solace as we navigate the ups and downs of life. Books that contain characters we relate to can provide a way to transcribe the messiness in our minds and understand other people's emotions. Mental illness can sometimes make it challenging to find the concentration required to read, but these nine books are wor...
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What is the DSM? Your questions answered

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is used by clinicians and psychiatrists around the world to diagnose mental disorders and psychiatric illnesses. Published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it was first printed in 1952. It covers all categories of mental health disorders for both adults and children.   As you might expe...
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How to connect when you feel alone

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Despite the world's population growing rapidly, many of us feel lonelier than ever. The drive to connect with others and forge meaningful social relationships is an essential part of what makes us human. From a neurobiological perspective, we are wired for connection.   However, as a 2016 survey by Lifeline Australia revealed, more than 80 per...
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Why diagnosing at a distance doesn’t help (and what to do instead)

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When it comes to mental health, we all tend to diagnose people from a distance from time to time. It doesn't necessarily come from a bad place. Sometimes it comes from a place of curiosity, empathy, or thinking you can help another human being out by sharing what you've observed about their behaviour. After all, it can be hard to speak up about men...
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