TransFolk of WA warn against sensationalised stories on mental health

Warning: This article contains mentions of suicide.

Advocacy and support organisation TransFolk of WA have released a statement regarding an article on a young trans person published in WA media last week.

On Tuesday 20th April, The West Australian had reported on the case of the two parents in dispute over the arrangements for the funeral of their transgender son.

TransFolk of WA Chair Hunter Gurevich says while they commend the author for correctly gendering the young person and using correct pronouns, there are many ways the article does a “great disservice to the family of this young person, trans and gender diverse community, and West Australians at large.”

“Placing this story on the front page and making the family’s tensions the central feature of the story sensationalises and subjects the family to unnecessary scrutiny and trivialises their experience,” Gurevich said.

“There are real human beings here who have lost their child, and The West Australian has chosen to publish a story that provides no real insight, only encourage the general public to treat their private lives as spectacle. This is not in the best interests of any person, least of all the family and friends of this young person.”

Gurevich and TransFolk of WA also encourage media to handle the subject of suicide and mental health sensitively, for the benefit of all West Australians.

Research has consistently shown that media coverage of mental health and suicide is associated with increased rates of suicide. Media entities are directly discouraged from publishing such stories prominently to lessen the risk of harm,” Gurevich continues.

“They are also encouraged to provide information about suicide, what signs might people look for, and where to access help. While the article did include the phone number for Lifeline, it gave absolutely no context, and no information to help the West Australian community.”

Resources are also available for media entities to educate themselves in how best to approach the subjects of mental health and suicide. We invite the editorial staff of Seven West Media to avail themselves of these resources before embarking on future articles addressing this topic.”

OIP Staff

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED: 9364 6909 / / [email protected]
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 /

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 /

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