Reporting of suicides in the media

The following text in an excerpt from the World Health Organization publication PREVENTING SUICIDE, A RESOURCE FOR MEDIA PROFESSIONALS

Reporting of suicide in an appropriate, accurate and potentially helpful manner by enlightened media can prevent tragic loss of lives by suicide.

Overall, there is enough evidence to suggest that some forms of non-fictional newspaper and television coverage of suicide are associated with a statistically significant excess of suicide; the impact appears to be strongest among young people…  Suicide is often newsworthy and the media have the right to report it. However, the suicides most likely to attract the attention of the media are those that depart from usual patterns…  Clinicians and researchers acknowledge that it is not news coverage of suicide per se, but certain types of news coverage, that increase suicidal behaviour in vulnerable populations. Conversely, certain types of coverage may help to prevent imitation of the suicidal behaviour. Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that publicity about suicide might make the idea of suicide seem “normal”. Repeated and continual coverage of suicide tends to induce and promote suicidal preoccupations, particularly among adolescents and young adults.

Further information about responsible reporting is available from the World Health Organization at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2000/WHO_MNH_MBD_00.2.pdf and http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/en/

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