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CNN example of how NOT to discuss mental health issues in news stories

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A journalist sent this to me with the one word subject line: “Seriously?” There was a link to a story on CNN’s website about people being depressed – even suicidal – after watching the movie, “Avatar.”

As if there hasn’t been enough hype about this movie, now CNN stirs the pot by reporting:

“James Cameron’s completely immersive spectacle “Avatar” may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.”

That kind of flip discussion of depression and suicide shows no appreciation for concerns over media portrayal of suicide and the phenomenon of copycat suicides. If this, indeed, is such a newsworthy phenomenon, shouldn’t the story have mentioned at least one mental health resource for troubled readers or moviegoers?

And all of it was based on posts to an online chat forum.

Well, online chatters responded to the CNN story itself, writing:

• “Geez, I thought this was a joke the first time I read it! What annoys me here is abuse of the word “depression.” Depression is a clinical mental illness that has to be ongoing and significant to be actual depression. It isn’t the same as being a little bummed that a silly movie isn’t real.”

• “This is far and away the stupidest article I’ve ever read.”

• “Wait, this isn’t theonion.com? Serious journalism indeed.”

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