In Focus

Selling Sorrow Effects of Public Exposure to Personal Loss

MELANI MANEL PERERA

“Exploitation of personal stories of sorrow and loss is a breach of privacy and an addition to the pain already being felt by the victims of the Easter Sunday Attacks,” says Dr. Ravindra Ranasinghe, a psychotherapist at the Hemas Group also works with the World Health Organization to prevent community harassment. Dr. Ravindra Ranasinghe is the Director of Sri Lanka’s Psychotherapy Research Center and the psychotherapist of special education school ‘Senehasa’ of the Sri Lanka Army. This is his exclusive with The Catamaran.


The Catamaran – What is your opinion on the publicization of the personal stories of loss of those affected by the Easter Sunday Attacks?

Unnecessary publicity is gained through the publishing of such stories and is a violation of one’s right to mourn in private. Without the knowledge of the subject, their pain is sold over media which a gross ethical violation. 

“Reporting on such incidents needs to draw the attention of society without having to sell an individual’s pain.”

An important aspect of journalism is reporting with social responsibility. Selling of personal grief should be stopped immediately.  A code of ethics needs to be practiced when presenting stories based on grief over media.


The Catamaran – What is the physical or mental impact on the victims of such incidents when their personal experiences are published over media?

They become victims twice over when they have to hear, see and relive their pain. Witnessing another’s pain similar to their own can also result in diminishing their ability to cope. I emphasize that it essential for media to engage in reporting by a code of ethics when faced with disasters.


The Catamaran – Rehabilitation from the pain of the Easter Sunday Attacks is an important process. Is there a specialized group of people able to do so or do you see such rehabilitation as a responsibility of society?

Before treating the victims of the attacks in the three churches, consider what had happened to them. These people were in a place of worship, experiencing a bond with god and a spiritual link which was abruptly shattered. The aftermath gave rise to questions on the protection of God and the meaning of life, shaking core beliefs in their spirituality. 

The group who immediately addressed this situation was the Catholic Church. They performed a major task post-attacks and are continuing to do so. Due to the preliminary intervention of the Catholic clergy, the victims were able to better overcome their shock. Other religious clergy have also tried to provide psychotherapy and communication with the people. They were not successful as these incidents occurred in a Catholic background. 

After reaffirming their beliefs and trust in God, the next step requires specialist support, psychotherapy. Counselors, psychotherapists, and arts therapists have offered their support Now, many victims have overcome their shock due to this expert support. While there still is a small group still on their way to recovering fully, we believe it is not too far away.


The Catamaran – How do you feel present society is reacting to the publicization of these personal stories of loss?

“We need to consider the impact on the minds of people not affected. They are repeatedly being exposed to scenes of pain and suffering over electronic and print media, which is resulting in a frightened society.”

There are students from the outskirts of Negombo unable to concentrate on their lessons. Ethnic disputes are arising among children. wings.  Rumors are flying, and credible news is hard to come by. It is the responsibility of the government and media to decide what information is most necessary for society. 

This article was originally published on the catamaran.com

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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