Mental health stigma alive and well and on the airwaves
Posted Tuesday 19 January 2010
The news that Manchester radio DJ Steve Penk played the Van Halen song ‘Jump’ for motorists delayed by a road closure when a woman attempted to take her own life from a bridge, is a stark reminder of the distance we still have to go to tackle mental health discrimination.
Apparently the request for the song came from local motorists inconvenienced by the closures, which the Revolution DJ honoured moments before she jumped. Although he is in no way to blame for what happened, few people would argue that his actions weren't in incredibly poor taste.
He has since stood by his decision saying "I don't regret playing it for a minute" and that he empathised with the inconvenienced drivers. It is a sad state of affairs when as a society we start to view someone else’s tragedy as a personal inconvenience. Surely if the frustrated motorists stopped to think that this was a human life at stake, someone's daughter or friend, they would not be so flippant. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one to suicide will know how terrible the affects are for family and friends.
Over 100 people a week take their own life in the UK. The fear of stigma means that many people experiencing mental distress feel unable to speak to loved ones and as a consequence they suffer in silence. I only hope that the publicity surrounding this event might make the public question their own understanding of mental health issues. In the 21st century, is it too much to ask that we show compassion and understanding for people who are in the depths of despair?
Mind and the Samaritans will be complaining to Ofcom about the show, and we urge you to lodge your own complaint. Please include the following information about the programme:
Name of the show: Steve Penk at Breakfast
Radio station: 96.2FM Revolution Radio
Transmission date: Thursday 14 January 2010
Please note that the Ofcom site will not find any information for Revolution Radio. To make your complaint, just select "Continue" below the message that you get about this, and then on the next screen select "I saw/heard the programme".
Alison Kerry, Head of Media
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