Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Gatekeeper Movement

Suicide is a serious health issue. Korea leads the world in the number of suicides. Consequently,  programs in suicide prevention are promoted to decrease the  numbers. The Catholic Times has an article on one of the movements called  'Gatekeepers' that educates the public on ways to 'see, listen, and report'. The program is sponsored by many interested groups in Korea, who are working together to prevent suicides. The 'Gatekeepers' is an international movement that Korea has adapted to the country and its needs.

The One-Body One-Spirit Center in suicide prevention is a Catholic group actively participating in  the Gatekeeper movement. Those who attend the program are trained to recognize the warning signs and what to do. A journalist who attended one of  the programs with 30 others makes a report on the program. The training helps one in the first step to recognize the words, actions and circumstances that are signs of a possible suicide. Second step is to find out the reasons for the death wish by listening and to help to  show the reasons for life. The third step is to leave the person with necessary safeguards and refer the person to a specialist.

One of the presentations during the three-hours   mentioned how we are all involved in a suicide. In one year, about 15,000 persons kill themselves but the reality is larger by far. Those who attempt suicide and fail are 40 times that number. Those who are affected by the suicides would be over 3 million. Which makes us think deeply on the problem that Korea faces with the numbers of those that kill themselves.

The journalist mentions that  the program is well adjusted to the Korean situation. The words that those who have given up on life are easily ascertained. Students find their schools "like being in hell." "I  don't want to go to school." The middle-aged: "the world tells me to get lost." The older people: " I have no strength, why live any longer; it is time to die." These are some of the words that express the death wish.

Before taking the  program the journalist thought there was little to learn in three-hours. But after the program was over the thinking was different, a lot was learned and the thinking on suicide changed. With a little effort much can be done to decrease the numbers of suicides.

This is not only the thought of journalists. The office of suicide prevention mentioned that from March of 2013 to December those who have been involved in the work, 68 percent of them have taken the training to see, listen and refer, they  were gatekeepers: a good  reason for taking the three-hour training program.

The Werther effect or copycat suicides are frequent, and determined often by the prominence that suicides receive in the press. The reasons for a suicide are many and the press often simplifies the motivation as a single-issue   Excessive coverage of the suicide when dealing with celebrities and the famous in public life,  without any attempts to  show a need for prevention in the report, and where to go for help for those who find life difficult are often missing. There is a need to be sensitive to those who are screaming inside, and for society to be attuned to hearing the screams.

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