Tag Archives: suicide

HHS session on covering suicide described as new effort to engage reporters

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Mark Weber

The Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a seminar for reporters on covering suicide on Tuesday, in what the lead organizer described as an effort by HHS media officials to engage with journalists in new ways.

Mark Weber, the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, said that media officials often interact with reporters in what he called “ATM transactions” – communicating only when one needs something from the other. Continue reading

Investigator, researcher share tips on how to cover suicide

About Valarie Basheda

Valarie Basheda, director of news and special projects at WebMD, oversees WebMD’s original news, special reports, and blogs. Before joining WebMD, she worked as an editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Before that, she worked at the American Journalism Review, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

Photo: Sonya CollinsTrebor Randle, special agent in charge of the Child Fatality Review Unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shares Georgia-specific suicide rates and demographics.

Death by suicide is on the rise and is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 39. In some cases, especially with children younger than 18, the media may shy away from covering these tragic deaths.

That’s not the correct approach, says Trebor Randle, special agent in charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Randle works in the Child Fatality Review Unit of the GBI. She investigates every case when a child dies by suicide under the age of 18. Continue reading

’13 Reasons Why:’ Are you ready for coverage of sensitive topics?

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

The second season of 13 Reasons Why, a controversial teen drama TV show, premiered May 18 on Netflix. Throughout its first season, loosely based on the award-winning book by Jay Asher, the show dealt in great detail with the suicide of a high school student, including its precursors and its aftermath. Now, the show has already drawn criticism for a rape scene this season. Continue reading

How an AHCJ workshop sparked a prominent NYT science story

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Hilary Swift for The New York TimesPhotographer Hilary Swift’s compelling images of Wyoming accompany Beil’s piece on suicide rates in rural America.

Photo: Hilary Swift for The New York TimesPhotographer Hilary Swift’s compelling images of Wyoming accompany Beil’s piece on suicide rates in rural America.

Are workshops really worth your time?

You have to apply, make travel arrangements, and then sort through a massive amount of often technical information packed into just a few hours or days, all while under pressure to produce. Journalists can leave with mountains of research papers, stacks of cards, heaps of data – but wondering if anything really can come from all of it.

For Texas-based freelance writer Laura Beil, the answer is a resounding yes. Continue reading

Poor sleep tied to higher suicide risk in elders

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by Alex via flickr.

Image by Alex via flickr.

The recent suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams has put a spotlight on suicide and depression. However, older adults who suffer from sleep problems are at even greater risk of suicide, according to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers investigated the relative independent risk for suicide associated with poor subjective sleep quality in a population-based study of 14,456 community-dwelling older adults (age 65+) during a 10-year observation period. They compared the sleep quality of 20 suicide victims with the sleep quality of 400 similar individuals during that time. Participants with dysfunctional sleeping patterns had a 1.4 times greater chance of death by suicide than well-rested people.

Even after adjusting for depressive symptoms, they concluded that poor subjective sleep quality appears to present “considerable risk” for severe suicidal behaviors 10 years later.  Risk increases among patients with multiple illnesses. Continue reading