New Press Council guidelines for reporting on suicide
SANE Australia welcomes the recent release of the Australian Press Council’s Standards Relating to Suicide.
The Standards are designed to ensure responsible reporting and discussion about suicide and remind Australian media outlets to be mindful of the impact the topic can have on readers.
SANE was pleased to contribute to the Standards, which emphasise the need for the media to support suicide prevention activities. The Standards limit the description of suicide methods and require newspapers to include helpline information in all suicide related stories.
You can help ensure the media responsibly covers suicide-related issues by lodging a StigmaWatch Report. If you see a report failing to include helplines, or irresponsibly including suicide methods, you can report it online, or you can write a ‘Letter to the Editor’ citing the Standards Relating to Suicide.
For assistance when writing to the media you can visit Contacting the Media for Complaint or Praise on the SANE Website.
Have your say on the social impact of social media
Do you find that social media improves your sense of social inclusion, or does it increase your isolation?
Information technology is changing the way we seek information and stay connected. For people living with a mental illness, accessing and using information technology can be a challenge as well as an opportunity.
The latest SANE survey explores how far the use of IT and social media connects people with a mental illness to family, friends and community services, as well as helping you find the information you need.
Take part in our survey to help SANE identify the needs of people with a mental illness.
Contacting the newsrooms
Examples of action taken to improve media coverage of suicide can be seen in the SANE StigmaFiles.
SANE Australia lobbies Joe Hockey
Earlier this year StigmaWatch received reports regarding offensive comments made by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. During parliamentary question time Mr Hockey criticised the federal government's policies by making inappropriate and derogatory comparisons linking the government and mental illness.
SANE Australia contacted Mr Hockey's office to express our disappointment, with SANE's Chairman, Stan Wallis, and Executive Director, Barbara Hocking, meeting Mr Hockey to discuss the issue.
The Shadow Treasurer expressed remorse and apologised for the stigmatising comments, saying he would think twice in the future.
Add your voice and read them the 'riot act'
StigmaWatchers in Canberra recently alerted SANE Australia to an independent news website in the ACT, which ridiculed people with a mental illness by calling a mental health unit a 'looney bin'.
StigmaWatch contacted the website editor, explaining why people with a mental illness had taken offence, asking for RiotACT to amend the article.
The editor refused stating, "looney is an acceptable colloquialism of lunatic…and in this instance I believe a reasonable use of the english language".
So far SANE's explanation why this could be offensive to the one in five Australians with a mental illness has not been acknowledged.
If you want to add your voice and explain to the editor why the term 'looney bin' is stigmatising and outdated you can write to the RiotACT website by clicking here.
Inappropriate punch line
Occasionally comedy and light entertainment programs on television can overstep the mark, with off-the-cuff comments or jokes stigmatising mental illness.
The program producer was contacted and asked to pass the community feedback onto participants, encouraging a more appropriate choice of words in the future.
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National coverage for day of action
SANE Australia and R U OK?Day would like to congratulate the Australian media for its support promoting R U OK?Day.
So far this year SANE StigmaWatch has received 227 reports, of which 26 were Good News Stories and 201 were StigmaWatch Reports.
Over half of these reports fulfilled the program criteria and the journalist, editor or organisation was contacted by StigmaWatch.
It's great to see so many StigmaWatchers alerting us to inappropriate and offensive items, no matter how big or small.
Keep up the good work, and remember, if you see something stigmatising report it to StigmaWatch.