To commemorate one year since it began, Project SIREN announced two awards, for journalists and newspapers, for the most responsible coverage on suicide.

Geetika Mantri
news Award Friday, September 10, 2021 - 16:24

The News Minute and The Hindu have won the Project SIREN Award for sensitive reportage on suicides. Geetika Mantri, Senior Editor of The News Minute, was announced the winner of the first Project SIREN Award for journalists. She won the award for her October 2020 article titled ‘How the coverage of Sushant Singh’s death was a disservice to mental health reportage’, in the wake of the insensitive reports and debates that most publications and news channels carried on the actor’s death.

Project Siren, constituted by the Centre for Mental Health and Policy at ILS, Pune, completed one year of assessing media reports on suicide on September 10, 2021, which also marks World Suicide Prevention Day. The project recognises journalists and media persons as “crucial allies to support suicide prevention activities.”

To commemorate one year, Project SIREN announced the presentation of two awards — Award to the Newspaper that performed best on the SIREN scorecard (2020-21), and an Award for the most sensitive and responsible report on suicide.

“Geetika’s article was appreciated by the jury for provoking introspection among journalist peers on the coverage of the death of Sushant Singh Rajput in June 2020,” the Centre for Mental Health and Policy tweeted from their official handle.

Geetika Mantri’s piece highlights the insensitive way most media houses reported Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, and how the late actor’s personal life was scrutinised in unnecessary, often speculative, detail on national television. It further discusses how the incident lowered the standard of mainstream Indian journalism and its larger impact on mental health reporting.

Award to the Newspaper that performed best on the SIREN scorecard (2020-21) was won by The Hindu. “We congratulate them for their consistent reporting and also providing help-seeking information such as helpline numbers in their articles,” the organisation wrote on Twitter.

The panel of judges for the award included Dr Jaya Shreedhar, a doctor by training and award-winning health journalist; AJ Philip, who has worked in senior editorial positions at Hindustan Times, The Indian Express and the Tribune; Meera Damji, who works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Mental Health and Policy; and Tanmoy Goswami, the founding editor of the independent mental health journalism platform Sanity by Tanmoy. 

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.   

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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