New Recommendations on Reporting About Suicide

By on Monday, July 18, 2011

I work regularly on issues related to suicide in the military and support trauma survivors. While awareness about suicide as a public health issue seems to be emerging and expanding, we still have a long way to go.

Journalists can play a key role in educating the public about suicide prevention, but sensitivity is needed. More than 50 research studies around the world have demonstrated that certain types of news coverage can actually increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable people. Sensationalizing the death and explicitly discussing the method of suicide can increase the likelihood of copycat deaths.
Many decades ago, it was not uncommon to find newsrooms with policies that avoided covering suicide. Nowadays, it’s not off limits. But journalists need to be educated about how to report on this sensitive issue.
Thankfully – there’s some new guidelines and information available to help journalists facing coverage on this complicated topic:

Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – see the checklist with Do’s and Don’ts if you are in a rush and trying to get copy filed quickly.

Everyone wants to know what you think.

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