Media Guidelines for the reporting of suicide

Media guidelines for the reporting of suicide

Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide (pdf) have been produced following extensive consultation with journalists and editors throughout the industry.

They are aimed at those reporting suicide in any media, from factual description to dramatic portrayal.

Codes of practice

Regulations and Codes of Practice that the media must follow relating to suicide.

About Samaritans Media Guidelines

On average, over 6,000 people take their own lives by suicide each year across the United Kingdom (UK) and Republic of Ireland (ROI).

Research shows that inappropriate reporting of suicide may lead to imitative or ‘copycat’ behaviour, so Samaritans publishes Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and has been working with the media for more than two decades, providing expert advice on the portrayal of suicide.

Given the sensitivities around this, we were pleased that Emmerdale approached us for expert advice on Andy Sugden’s storyline to help them to cover itas safely as possible. The media can play an important role in helping people understand some of the issues surrounding suicide, including the kinds of problems that can lead to a person to becoming suicidal and the signs which may indicate a person is at risk. In Andy Sugden’s case, the sudden, tragic loss of his wife clearly has a devastating impact. We know that men tend to rely more on their partners for emotional support and can suffer this loss acutely.

The media can also help encourage people who are struggling to reach out for support and raise awareness of sources of help, such as Samaritans. It is important that programme makers consult with us to help make sure this is done in a safe and responsible way.

Supplementary factsheets

We have also produced a series of supplementary factsheets:

"Irresponsible reporting on suicide can have very damaging consequences. These guidelines provide clear, positive advice to help journalists cover a tragedy, and avoid doing more harm."
Dr Ben Goldacre, Writer, Bad Science

Source of support

Samaritans offer confidential support around the clock to anyone that wants to talk through their problems. Only 1 conversation in 5 is with someone feeling suicidal. Common reasons to call us include:

  • relationship and family problems
  • loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
  • financial worries
  • job-related stress
  • college or study-related stress

We also have a number of other sources of support offering specific advice: