…as media personnel sensitised in mental health reportingBritish High Commissioner Greg Quinn has renewed calls in support for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide, as he shared the belief that it is not a criminal offence, but rather a cry for assistance.This was divulged during a workshop organised for media personnel by the British High Commission in collaboration with the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and other contributing stakeholders.He stated that suicide was removed from the list of criminal offences in England and Wales since 1961 and such actions should follow through for Guyana as well because it eliminates the stigma for surviving family members.“Suicide here in Guyana needs to be decriminalised. It needs to be taken off the criminal statute. It is no way a criminal offence…It was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1961 with the appropriately named Suicide Act. What that fundamentally means is not only is the stigma removed from surviving family members, but also those why try and fail are no longer prosecuted…If you do, here in Guyana, you are and this we believe is fundamentally wrong. Trying to commit suicide is a clear statement of a need for help,” the High Commissioner shared.Last October, UK consultant Peter Pursglove, who was here under the Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme (SCJSP), had proposed amendments for the decriminalisation of current offences and recommended alternatives to imprisonment in respect of certain summary offences, especially minor and non-violent crimes.A statement from the Attorney General (AG) Chambers had indicated that crimes such as vagabondage, vagrancy, obeah, witchcraft, roguery, criminal defamation and attempted suicide are decriminalised in other countries, and such changes have not impacted negatively on public safety.However, it was not clear if public consultations would be carried out to determine whether or not to effect these legal changes.The AG’s chambers had said these activities are intended to impact the Criminal Justice System by increasing the use of Alternative Sentencing. It was outlined that objectives would be achieved through both amendments to existing legislation and the drafting of entirely new legislation.SensitisationMedia operatives were briefed by several professionals who are versed in mental health and other correlated issues. As part of the training, they were exposed to several aspects of sensitive topics— including suicide and incidents involving young children— which should be reported with caution.According to Psychologist Raiza Khan, it is more than just the reporting of these offences. Families need counselling to heal from tragic experiences which are sometimes sensationalised for marketing. She advised that headlines should be worded in such a manner that it does not degrade victims and information within an article should not cause discomfort to readers. Journalists were recommended to place hotline numbers, statistics on the suicide rate, risk factors, and other research to spread positive data.Stakeholders acknowledged the fact that the mental wellbeing of journalists are also affected by gruesome events since close attention is paid to details and interaction with bereaved family members.