We spoke with Jennifer from Mindframe, about how the media should be reporting on suicide to ensure it is safe, responsible and accurate.
What are the rules on reporting suicide?
We know through centuries of observation and hundreds of research articles, that discussing suicide can be harmful if too much information is given. This applies not just in news media, but in entertainment media as well.
As any good storyteller will tell you, be it on page, stage or the big screen – there is great skill in being able to paint a picture that invites a reader to imagine the finer details for themselves. Whether a story is to entertain or inform a reader, evidence demonstrates that discussing the loss of life by suicide can be harmful to people who are vulnerable.
Currently there are no set ‘rules’ around this but we do have well-supported guidance, which helps us understand how we can minimise harm and copy-cat behaviour. People who are experiencing thoughts of suicide are at a higher risk of being negatively impacted when there is graphic detail of how someone has taken their own life. Using stigma-free language and information that is void of explicit detail can still tell a story and is a safer way to present the topic of suicide.