Suicide is the leading cause of unnatural death in Spain. In our country, there are more suicides than deaths on the roads. Only in 2020, 3,941 people took their own lives, according to data published by the National Institute of Statistics.

The death of the actress Verónica Forqué at the age of 66 after taking his life at his home in Madrid not only has it shaken the cultural world, but it has put the media focus on the great taboo of mental health in Spain: suicide.

Although, in general, the media does not report on suicides in a pact accepted in the newsrooms that seeks to avoid a ‘copycat effect’, also known as the ‘Werther effect’. This term coined by the sociologist David Phillips in 1974 refers to Goethe’s novel ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ where the protagonist dies by suicide.

According to a study by Phillips, the number of suicides in the United States increased in the month after the New York Times published some information on suicides on its front page.

Given the important risk factors, in addition to the delicacy required to cover suicides, news related to suicide is only published when the treatment of the information can have a preventive effect on suicidal behavior.

The theory of ‘Papageno effect’ indicates that exposure to information about people who have faced crisis in a positive way and without suicidal behavior exerts a protective effect. The dimension of the health problem posed by the suicide data in Spain has caused the trend in the media to report news that addresses this problem from a preventive perspective.

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The great taboo has been collapsing in recent months, perhaps due to the magnitude of the figures, but also because of a society increasingly concerned that mental health has the same importance as physical in our country.

Requests from various platforms to political parties to address this problem has increased notably in the last legislature. According to the EFE agency, the proportion of clinical psychologists is 6 per 100,000 current inhabitants, compared to 18 on average in the European Union. There are 9.6 psychiatrists in Spain for every 100,000 inhabitants, far behind countries such as Poland, Finland and Belgium with 24; 23 and 20 respectively.

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The social debate on suicide is neither easy nor straightforward. Mental health involves multiple variables that can lead to suicidal thoughts. There are also many false myths surrounding suicide and linking it to calls for attention. Any indication should alert the environment of a person who shows suicidal behavior or thoughts.

You are not alone, you are not alone

If you or someone you know is going through a bad time, there are professionals ready to help you. In the 112 phone, people who work in the Emergency Room will be able to assist you by phone 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You can also go to a health center or hospital for help. There are other associations, such as the Telephone of Hope, that also lend their help. You can call 717 003 717.

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