For media requiring an immediate response, outside of office hours, please contact the press team on +44 (0)7943 809 162.
For immediate emotional support, please call Samaritans’ 24 hour helpline: 08457 909090 (UK), 1850 609090 (ROI).
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From reporting on suicide to dramatic portrayals, our guidelines help journalists and editors understand the impact of their work on copycat suicides, offer practical advice and explode some media myths.
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Samaritans' work with the media
Samaritans adopts a proactive approach to promoting responsible reporting and portrayal of suicide in the media.
Samaritans regularly consults with some of the UK’s leading experts on the influence of the media on suicidal behaviour, including:
- Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research at the University of Oxford,
- Stephen Platt, Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh and
- David Gunnell, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bristol.
As well as supporting the industry, Samaritans works closely with the regulators, including the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), Ofcom and the British Board of Film Classification, to ensure responsible reporting and portrayal of suicide, to reduce the risk of copycat behaviour.
Through this work, considerable progress has been made in recent years in the way that suicide is reported in the press.
Samaritans lobbied to have a new sub-clause added into the PCC’s Editor’s Code specifically addressing the reporting of suicide in the media.
We were successful, when in 2006, the PCC added a new sub-clause to its code:
Clause 5: Intrusion into Grief and Shock:
5i: In cases involving grief or shock, enquiries must be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion. Publication must be handled sensitively at such times, but this should not be interpreted as restricting the right to reporting judicial proceedings.
5ii: When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used.