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Monday, September 11, 2017

Do’s and Don’ts for Media Reporting on Suicide

David Susman
The Mental Health and Wellness Blog
Originally published June 15, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

I was reminded recently of the excellent resources which provide guidelines for the responsible reporting and discussion of suicide in the media. In the guideline document, “Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide,” several useful and concrete guidelines are offered for how to talk about suicide in the media. Most of the material in this article comes from this source. Let’s first review and summarize the list of do’s and don’ts.

1) Don’t use big or sensationalistic headlines with specific details about the method of suicide. Do inform without sensationalizing the suicide and without providing details in the headline.

2) Don’t include photos or videos of the location or method of death, grieving family or friends, funerals. Do use a school or work photo; include suicide hotline numbers or local crisis contacts.

3) Don’t describe suicide as “an epidemic,” “skyrocketing,” or other exaggerated terms. Do use accurate words such as “higher rates” or “rising.”

4) Don’t describe a suicide as “without warning” or “inexplicable.” Do convey that people exhibit warning signs of suicide and include a list of common warning signs and ways to intervene when someone is suicidal (see section below).

5) Don’t say “she left a suicide note saying…” Do say “a note from the deceased was found.”

6) Don’t investigate and report on suicide as though it is a crime. Do report on suicide as a public health issue.

7) Don’t quote police or first responders about the causes of suicide. Do seek advice and information from suicide prevention experts.

8) Don’t refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt.” Avoid the use of “committed suicide,” which is an antiquated reference to when suicidal acts or attempts were punished as crimes. Do say “died by suicide,” “completed” or “killed him/herself.”

The article is here.
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