independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Station defends airing of suicidal man's call

A SENIOR radio executive has applauded his staff for handling a controversial call from a suicidal man with "care and sensitivity".

FM104 Programme Director Dave Kelly defended the Dublin station after it came under fire for putting the highly distressed man on air during its late-night phone show.

Gardai rushed to the scene when the man phoned in and said he was about to kill himself by jumping off Loughlinstown Bridge on Thursday night.

During the show, the man's father rang in after being informed that his son was on air. He tried to persuade him not to carry out the threat to take his life.

The man was heard telling gardai to get off the bridge, but they managed to persuade him to climb down.

The station went off air for 10 minutes, and when it returned the presenter Jeremy Dixon told listeners the line had gone dead. He said he was "cut up about this" and it was obvious that the man had issues with the gardai and the HSE.

Mr Dixon admitted that he "was not qualified to deal with this", but the suicidal call was broadcast for almost an hour.

The show was also extended after the call ended in case the man called back.

Independent TD Finian McGrath accused the station of being "grossly irresponsible" and called on the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to launch an investigation.

But Mr Kelly defended the station's decision to broadcast the call and the way it was handled by Mr Dixon and his production team.

He said Mr Dixon's priority throughout the show was his concern for the caller's wellbeing.

He said behind the scenes, the show's production team got in touch with relevant organisations to help him directly.

"We hope the man is now getting the appropriate support he requires and I would like to thank our staff for handling a very difficult situation with such care and sensitivity," he said.

He said it was "a very highly charged emotional situation for all concerned".

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland said it only launched investigations if an individual who made a complaint to a station was not satisfied with its response. It said it had received one email and a telephone call yesterday in relation to the programme.

Mr McGrath said he was highly concerned about the fact that the radio station would broadcast a call from a man who was in such a vulnerable state.

"Suicide is such an emotional topic for people at the moment and the station went too far by broadcasting that call," he said.

Irish Independent

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