Through casting a wide net in their search for expertise, Roumeliotis and her team did find some who were cautiously willing to participate. She asked these experts for advice on how to frame the story, and what pitfalls to avoid.
“You don’t usually go to experts to tell you how to write your story,” Roumeliotis said. “But in this case we were certainly listening and getting input from experts.”
Sinyor was one of these experts. He says he understands the importance of having an open conversation regarding these sensitive topics. “Some reports have been helpful and have informed people and they have done good,” says Sinyor. “It is an issue of getting the balance right.”
One theme of Roumeliotis’s conversations was to avoid framing suicide as a solution or inevitability. Experts suggested that an effective story would include the devastation left behind when a person takes their own life. Additionally, they recommended including stories of people who sought help and survived, as well as including available resources throughout the piece.
“The quick take-away from many, many conversations is you don’t frame it as a solution. It’s not something that is inevitable,” said Roumeliotis. “If you show the devastation left behind, if you show the options of help and support, those are the differences.”
Sinyor agrees that sharing stories of those who found an alternative to suicide can actually have the opposite effect of suicide contagion.
Watch Dr. Mark Sinyor talk about telling stories of survival