Wed, Aug 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

`Gatekeepers' hold key to stop suicide, center says

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Suicide Prevention Center's annual goal is to raise awareness among those who may come into contact with people at high risk of taking their own life, the center said yesterday.

The center, a division of the Department of Health, issued its second suicide prevention guide at a press conference yesterday, introducing the concept of "gatekeepers" as part of its annual prevention strategy.

The guide is a translation of the article "Preventing Suicide" published by the WHO.

The center's head of education and training, Tang Hwa-sheng (湯華盛), said gatekeepers are those who are most likely to encounter possible suicide victims, such as doctors, teachers, and community elders, as well as the victim's family and friends.

Gatekeepers usually understand these high-risk individuals and have personal contact with them, which means that helping them to identifying possible suicides was very important, the center said.

Education of teachers and community elders have proven to be effective in suicide prevention, as members of the high-risk group often visit their family doctor one to three months before committing suicide, Tang said.

He added that the media's portrayal of suicides influenced people's attitudes toward it.

Studies have shown that the suicide rate tends to rise within 10 days after media coverage of a suicide, Tang said.

"Repeated airing of celebrity suicides has a particular impact on teenagers," he added.

Center director Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said that the center has printed 10,000 prevention brochures for gatekeepers and would distribute them during educational training sessions.

According to the center, 4,282 people committed suicide last year, with men accounting for about two-thirds of the deaths.

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