New guidelines on suicide reporting

Sensational or detailed media coverage of suicides can lead to copycat behaviour among vulnerable people, the PressWise Trust has warned.

The trust has issued new guidelines to journalists advising how best to cover suicide stories.

The guidelines say reports should not give too many details about the death and advise against suggesting that the suicide is a result of a single factor. Sensational headlines, images and language should be avoided and, wherever possible, the publication should carry up-to-date contact details of organisations that can provide counselling or advice.

The leaflet includes research from around that world suggesting that, following stories about suicide, there is a rise in the number of people choosing to take their own lives, often using a similar method.

PressWise director Mike Jempson said: “It is particularly appropriate that the leaflets should come out at a time when the UK Government is developing strategies to reduce suicide, especially among young people. Media coverage tends to be responsible but we have come across some horrific examples of insensitive reporting.”

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