Appropriate reporting

Media coverage is not the primary reason for the suicide, but it can serve as the crucial trigger during a critical phase of the illness.

Certain characteristics of a report will make imitation more likely:

  • Repetitive detailed reporting of the suicide;
  • Greater emotional content;
  • Suicide by a celebrity;
  • Reports in the print media;

This is not to say that suicide should not be discussed within the media, but know that the risk of a person identifying with a suicide is increased when:

  • Attention is drawn to the suicide using cover stories, headlines and photos;
  • Terms such as suicide appear in the headline;
  • The suicide method is described in detail;
  • A readily accessible scene is described or even glorified;
  • The social environment, the identity and motives are described poignantly;
  • The suicide is presented positively, or is glorified or romanticized;
  • The suicide is presented as completely incomprehensible or inevitable.

This risk decreases when:

  • Alternative solutions to problems and crises are suggested;
  • Suicide is depicted as a disease that could successfully be treated;
  • Background information is included in the clinical picture;
  • Expert opinion is sought;
  • Helplines and contacts are indicated;
  • The work undertaken by professionals is reported.