‘PUBG 'Addiction' drives Mumbai Teen to Commit Suicide,’ was the “BREAKING NEWS” this week. The news report was about a 17 year old boy who "allegedly" took his life after his mother reprimanded him for playing PUBG too much. The young boy had given up studies the previous year, had ample time at his disposal and played the game for hours on end, the report said. It also added that his family disapproved of his behavior and admonished him frequently.
This news report made me look back & think of the time I went through depression. I would binge-watch Netflix non-stop, be locked in my room for hours on end and the mere idea of facing the world outside was a horrible & unwelcome prospect. If I had fallen prey to my suicidal thoughts, would the media have blamed Netflix?
Instead of speculating & blaming the likes of PUBG, the Blue Whale Game and the Momo Challenge, why does the media refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room? Nearly 120 MILLION Indians are battling mental health problems without seeking help and it will stay that way unless we remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.
It’s time the media played its role as the 4th pillar of democracy and used its powers for the greater good. Instead of sensationalizing suicides and leaving the audience altogether more distraught, the news channels must:
- Start educating the audience about mental health issues,
- Provide information on where one can seek help,
- Steer clear of graphic imagery & over-the-top reporting (so that vulnerable minds are not influenced)
These and many other powerful guidelines have been suggested by the World Health Organization, in their resource to media professionals for suicide prevention. Numerous countries in the developed world like USA, UK, Canada, Austria and Australia have already implemented guidelines for media to report suicide responsibly. The Indian media, unfortunately, remains far far behind.
As TV news networks are self regulated in India - I look to the best of them to start this trend. NDTV is deemed one of the most receptive & responsible television media companies in India & I want their news channels to take the lead in setting a positive example for others to follow. This is my petition to NDTV: Adopt the WHO recommended guidelines for suicide reporting in your news channels by World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October.
Help start the conversation about mental health in every household. Help save lives. Please sign my petition.
Let’s get NDTV to #SpareTheSansani & #SaveLives