The purpose of Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative (AASPI) is to reduce suicide in Asian American communities in Illinois by education, training, advocacy, and research initiatives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

AASPI Letter to Daily Herald regarding Tiwari family

Below is a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald which was submitted by AASPI in response to the stories published about the sad death of Ms Tiwari.

To The Daily Herald

Email: dpfencepost@dailyherald.com

August 18, 2007

Dear Editor,

We were deeply saddened by the death of Nimisha Tiwari and her children and extend our sympathies to the Tiwari family and Nimisha’s parents. When lives suddenly end as a result of suicide, there are many questions left unanswered. While we appreciate the need for media to report newsworthy stories, responsible reporting is important in these sensitive situations. Your articles from August 12 through August 17 provided many sensational details of the suicide and the circumstances surrounding the Tiwaris’marriage, which we find unsettling.

Mental health professionals have urged the media to practice responsible journalism in reporting suicides. The media can help by educating readers about the likely causes of suicide, its warning signs, and treatment resources. At the same time, psychologists have found that there is an increased risk of suicide contagion if incidents are glorified or sensationalized. Including details about the method of a suicide, signaling suicide in the headline, printing photos of a suicide victim, and engaging in repetitive reporting may encourage readers who are at risk to act on suicidal thoughts.

The Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative (AASPI) is a growing coalition of consumers, health care providers, and researchers addressing suicide in Asian Americans. We urge The Daily Herald to focus on the facts and to stress that while there is no simple explanation for suicides, the mental health issues that underlie many suicides are treatable. Mistrust of mental health services, cultural stigma, and the lack of linguistically appropriate and culturally competent services prevent many Asian families from accessing mental health care when they need it, contributing further to the prevalence of these problems. As a community, we can best serve those whose mental well-being is impaired by empowering them to seek help and helping them access services that they deserve to have.


Grace Chan, M.A., Former Associate Dean of Students, University of Chicago

Aruna Jha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, UIC

Soo Na, M.S.W., Program Manager, Asian Health Coalition of Illinois

Joanna Su, M.S.W., Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative Board Member

Suresh Unni, LC.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, Loyola University of Chicago

On behalf of The Board of Directors, Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative

To reach AASPI, please contact Aruna Jha at arunajha@uic.edu or to aaspichicago@gmail.com