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Stigma Files 2009

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Euthanasia coverage






Recent coverage of the euthanasia debate triggered by Dr Phillip NItschke was reported on by a number of media who referenced 'suicide pills'. In particular, The Courier Mail's Jeremy Pierce titled his article 'Suicide pills for Christmas presents'. The article included details of the suggested drug and its availability in Australia and repeatedly used the term suicide.

Despite reporting on euthanasia, the same care should be taken by the media, as if the report were directly about suicide. This includes removing reference to suicide methods and reducing the use of the term 'suicide' to minimise the stories attraction to vulnerable people. The use of the term in headlines can also glamorise the act.

Mindframe have recently produced a new factsheet on the reporting of Euthanasia which states: '...research suggests a link between reporting of euthanasia and increased incidence of euthanasia deaths as well as an increase in suicide deaths by people who are not elderly or terminally ill.'

SANE does not discourage informed public debate regarding euthanasia, however it urges the media to consider codes of practice and guidelines for reporting suicide in these circumstances.