Monday, April 03, 2017

Suicide reporting: know the facts, save a life

One person kills themselves every 90 minutes in England.

There is compelling evidence that irresponsible reporting of suicides by media leads to extra deaths. Get it wrong and people die.   

When I was editor of regional newspapers, I don’t think I knew this.  I was vaguely aware of evidence that linked the reporting of suicide to imitative deaths in a cluster of suicides in South Wales.

However, there is now no doubt and there is no excuse for not knowing.  The increasing evidence has led to changes in the Editors’ Code of Practice which now explicitly states that ‘to prevent simulative acts, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used.’

The Samaritans have worked tirelessly in recent years to build a detailed set of guidelines for reporters on how best to cover suicide.  They also offer a full media advisory service, which includes both media training and pre-publication advice.

However, they find it difficult to get their message out to reporters working in local and regional media.

So, having heard the compelling evidence, I am working with Lorna Fraser, media adviser at The Samaritans, and IPSO, the main press regulator in the UK, to put on a workshop to explain the guidelines and the code rules.

It is aimed at regional and local journalists – and anyone who teaches young journalists – and is free to attend.  The workshop is being run by the Journalism department at the University of Derby.

It is open to Journalists working for newspapers, or working as freelances.  Academics who teach student Journalists are also welcome.

It is on Monday, April 24th, at 11am and will last about 90 minutes.  It will be held at the University of Derby’s main Kedleston Road campus – there is free parking, a frequent bus service from Derby train station, and a free lunch.

The workshop will include a presentation by Lorna, and Prof David Gunnell, of Bristol University, on the evidence which demonstrates the importance of journalists getting it right.  There will also be a Q&A session with a panel including the main speakers and somebody from IPSO.

We already have about 30 regional newspaper editors signed up for the workshop.

To join them, and receive more details, please go to the University’s website.  Sign up today.  Save a life.

  • If you are affected by any of the issues raised by this article, please contact The Samaritans any time of night or day:  Call 116 123 from any phone.