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Samaritans issue new guidelines on reporting suicides in the media

Posted on: August 3, 2020 by Ian Murray

The Samaritans have issued new revised guidelines for journalists for the reporting of suicides.

The guidelines – the sixth version created by the organisation – covers such areas as reporting inquests where suicide is involved and also the deaths of celebrities and high-profile people.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Lorna Fraser, Executive Lead  of the Samaritans’ Media Advisory Service said: “We have revised the new, sixth, edition of our guidelines to reflect the significant changes within the media landscape and the very latest research into the effects of media portrayals, to support the highest standards of journalism. 

“We know that the current climate has created new challenges, adding more pressure on journalists to produce of the moment reports, which can be particularly difficult when dealing with a sensitive and very complex topic.

“Following a lengthy consultation with industry leaders and journalists, we have created a new online hub of resources covering some additional topics to help journalists and programme makers further understand the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour and offering practical tips on covering these topics. These include; celebrity suicides, inquests, youth suicides, self-harm and suicide clusters, and covering these issues in documentaries and drama.

“Coverage of suicide can influence how people behave in a crisis and their beliefs about the options open to them. The media has a unique opportunity to inform and educate the public about suicide, encouraging important conversations, changing attitudes and behaviours and promoting help seeking. This can save lives.”

The Samaritans offer advice sessions via Zoom to explain the context of suicidal behaviour and what to be aware of when covering this topic in the media. For further information contact: mediaadvice@samaritans.org