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StigmaBusting Network and Alerts

NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS EMAIL ALERT Update

NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination
10 April 2000.

Contact Information:

Ms. Stella March

smarch@nami.org


NAMI STIGMABUSTERS ALERT APRIL 10, 2000

ABC's WONDERLAND: THE FIGHT CONTINUES

News Flash: Wonderland Ratings Fall

The Daily Nielsen Rankings reports that the April 6th episode of Wonderland took a hit from a new "ER episode, dropping way down from last week's 9.5/16 to a 5.5/9 at 10:00 p.m. The program also saw a decrease within the hour, sliding down to a 4.8/8 by 10:30 p.m.

======================================

NAMI Responds to ABC's Epilogue

Our hats go off to all the StigmaBusters who contacted their local ABC affiliates to run suicide crisis lines during last week's episode and for encouraging positive news stories to immediately follow the Wonderland program.

NAMI sent the following letter to ABC last Friday to acknowledge the network's step in the right direction, but to underscore that much more is needed to respond to public safety concerns, especially when dealing with suicide themes.

NAMI Letter to ABC:

Christine Hikawa
Vice-President for Standards & Practice
ABC Television
77 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023-6201

Dear Ms. Hikawa:

Last night's epilogue to Wonderland represented a small step forward toward balancing the program's negative images and themes-particularly if planned as a regular feature. Unfortunately, ABC is still ignoring the potential impact of the show's suicide themes.

Media guidelines prepared by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Association for Suicidology (AAS) clearly recognize an established, scientific basis for concerns about media presentations contributing to the causation of suicides through "suicide contagion." That is why an increasing number of national mental health organizations are asking ABC to implement a coordinated public health and safety plan for Wonderland, including a warning at the beginning of the program and broadcast of telephone numbers for local suicide hotlines.

NAMI commends WLNE-ABC in Providence, Rhode Island for setting a precedent of responsibility during the first episode's "suicide tutorial" scene by running the toll-free number of the local Samaritans hotline (which resulted in 21 telephone calls over four days directly attributable to the broadcast). Last night, in anticipation of the climactic suicide scene, WSB-TV in Atlanta super-imposed the local United Way hotline number several times during the program. NAMI is also aware of other ABC affiliates that were trying to arrange for such precautions, but without authorization, encouragement or assistance from the network.

Previews of Wonderland suggest that another vivid suicide scene will be broadcast next week. In the face of strong evidence about the impact of media presentations on suicide rates, ABC will continue to put lives at risk unless and until it implements appropriate safeguards.

The network is recklessly ignoring established, authoritative media guidelines, as well as the recent call of the U.S. Surgeon General for public-private national action to prevent suicides.

NAMI has many concerns about Wonderland, but the show's suicide themes are a profoundly urgent, distinct priority. Please help us save lives. Please maintain a standard of responsibility in the broadcast industry by addressing constructively what already is a public health crisis.

Sincerely,

Laurie Flynn
Executive Director

cc: U.S. Surgeon General
Walt Disney Company
ABC Entertainment
Mr. Peter Berg

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This Week's Action

StigmaBusters, we urge you to contact the following four sponsors who advertised during the second episode of Wonderland (April 6, 2000). The first three listed are repeat advertisers from the premiere episode, and the fourth sponsor markets pharmaceutical products to our members. Even though other sponsors supported the program, we think that success is more likely if we focus in on a smaller number of sponsors.

Wonderland Sponsors, April 6, 2000 episode:
Danny Abraham, CEO
Slim Fast Foods Company
P.O. Box 3625
West Palm Beach, FL 33402
Toll Free Phone: (877) 375-4632
Phone: (561) 833-9920
Fax: (561) 822-2836
Email: http://www.slimfast.com/contact/comments.asp
www.slimfast.com
Arthur C. Martinez
Chairman/President & CEO
Sears, Roebuck and Company
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60719
Phone: 847-286-2500
Fax: 847-286-8351
Email:
https://www.sears.com/jspscripts/ssears/sindex.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0949320790.0955139585@@@@&BV_EngineID=ecalhhdfelmibgfcmgcfecflj.0&page=custservform
www.sears.com
Shannon LaPierre, Public Relations Manager
Staples, Inc.
500 Staples Drive
Framingham, MA 01702
Phone: (508) 370-8500
Fax: (508) 253-7788
Email: http://www.staples.com/support/contact/contact.asp?Type=other_quest
www.staples.com
(new sponsor)
Robert A. Ingram, CEO
Glaxo Wellcome, Inc.
Five Moore Drive
P.O. Box 13398
Research Triangle Park, NC
Phone: (919) 483-2162
Fax: (919) 315-6049
Email: https://www.imgw.com/forms/GWcoform_secure.html
www.flonase.com

For your information, we have also included letters sent to two of these sponsors by the Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma In Hollywood:

Letter #1:

Arthur C. Martinez
Chairman/President & CEO
Sears
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60719

Dear Mr. Martinez:

We were dismayed to see that Sears chose, once again, to provide commercial sponsorship during ABC's new series Wonderland. This program reinforces the pervasive ignorance and stigma that exists toward mental illnesses and presents a sensational and one-dimensional portrayal of individuals who struggle with these disorders.

Last night's episode (April 6, 2000) was particularly disturbing for its graphic suicide scene and the reading of a suicide note during the program's final moments in which the patient says, "the medicine you gave me really works...I'm taking care of myself."

Despite multiple urgings by advocates and officials in the Administration, ABC decided not to run a disclaimer at the top of the program cautioning viewers about its intense and disturbing content. Nor, did the network add a tagline with a national suicide crisis line, even though-according to guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and the American Association of Suicidology-an established, scientific basis exists for concern that media presentation of suicide may contribute to causation of suicides by "suicide contagion."

The Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood, a coalition of leading national organizations, urges you to pull your sponsorship until Wonderland agrees to exercise responsibility to public health and safety concerns.

We implore you to join us in countering the negative impact of this program. Millions of Americans who are personally affected by mental illnesses are counting on Sears to do the right thing.

Members, Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRISTS

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PASTORAL COUNSELORS

- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION

- ASSERTIVE COMMUNITY TREATMENT ASSOCIATION

- ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

- COMPEER, INC.

- FOUNTAIN HOUSE

- INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION SERVICES

- INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR CLUBHOUSE DEVELOPMENT

- NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DIRECTORS

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHIATRIC HEALTH SYSTEMS

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS

- NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE

- NATIONAL DEPRESSIVE AND MANIC-DEPRESSIVE ASSOCIATION

- NATIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIA FOUNDATION

- GERALD AND ELSIE WEYRAUCH, Founders, Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPANUSA)

Letter #2:

Robert A. Ingram, CEO
Glaxo Wellcome, Inc.
Five Moore Drive
P.O. Box 13398
Research Triangle Park, NC

Dear Mr. Ingram:

Like millions of Americans, our members throughout the country last night watched the second episode of ABC's new series Wonderland. The Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood, a coalition of leading national organizations, has mounted a vigorous effort to counter the effects of this terribly stigmatizing portrayal of people with serious mental illnesses.

This program reinforces the pervasive ignorance and stigma that exists toward mental illnesses and presents a sensational and one-dimensional portrayal of individuals who struggle with these disorders.

Last night's episode (April 6, 2000) was particularly disturbing for its graphic suicide scene and the reading of a suicide note during the program's final moments in which the patient says, "the medicine you gave me really works...I'm taking care of myself."

Despite multiple urgings by advocates and officials in the Administration, ABC decided not to run a disclaimer at the top of the program cautioning viewers about its intense and disturbing content. Nor, did the network add a tagline with a national suicide crisis line, even though-according to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Suicidology-an established, scientific basis exists for concern that media presentation of suicide may contribute to causation of suicides by "suicide contagion."

We were shocked and terribly dismayed to see that Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., through its Flonase nasal spray advertisement, has provided commercial sponsorship for Wonderland. With its long corporate commitment to individuals with mental illnesses, the company must not have been aware of the content or awful impact of the program.

The Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood urges Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., to pull its sponsorship until the producers of Wonderland agree to exercise responsibility to public health and safety concerns.

Specifically, the Coalition is demanding that the producers of Wonderland:

- Put a disclaimer at the beginning of each show to warn viewers that the content is very intense and disturbing. The disclaimer should also explicitly point out the portrayals on Wonderland do not reflect the vast majority of persons with mental illness.

- Tone down the extreme violence. How tragic that the young man with schizophrenia who killed five people in Times Square kills himself, in last night's episode, AFTER finally receiving medication.

- Build a more accurate picture of the full range of experiences of people with mental illness, including the negative reality of stigma, difficulty in accessing medical care and the positive results of effective treatment.

We implore you to join us in countering the negative impact of this program. Millions of Americans who are personally affected by mental illnesses are counting on Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., to do the right thing.

Members, Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRISTS

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL

- PSYCHIATRY

- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PASTORAL COUNSELORS

- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION

- ASSERTIVE COMMUNITY TREATMENT ASSOCIATION

- ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

- COMPEER, INC.

- FOUNTAIN HOUSE

- INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION SERVICES

- INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR CLUBHOUSE DEVELOPMENT

- NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DIRECTORS

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHIATRIC HEALTH SYSTEMS

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS

- NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE

- NATIONAL DEPRESSIVE AND MANIC-DEPRESSIVE ASSOCIATION

- NATIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIA FOUNDATION

- GERALD AND ELSIE WEYRAUCH, Founders, Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPANUSA)

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You ARE Making A Difference!

Again, we thank you for your continued support in sending messages to ABC and the sponsors of Wonderland. We also appreciate receiving copies of your messages and other comments.

We apologize for not being able to answer everyone individually, however, we do read and consider every message. We often refer certain questions to NAMI staff involved in the specifically described situation.

Numbers count and StigmaBusters continue to grow! We welcome our many new StigmaBusters, who have signed on recently when they heard about our Wonderland efforts.

Stella March, Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters Email Alert
smarch@nami.org


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