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Samaritans has produced a series of supplementary factsheets to inform media reporting on suicide.
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
Best practice for reporting on suicide using digital media
Digital media continues to shape journalism, significantly increasing the speed with which stories can reach mass audiences across a range of evolving platforms. This increases the importance for journalists to be aware of the potential impact that reporting on suicide and self-harm can have on audiences and the risk of contagion.
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It is inevitable that such shocking events are reported and it is arguably in the public interest to examine the circumstances surrounding these types of deaths. Murder-suicides may be uncommon but their impact can be widespread. Family, neighbours, friends and witnesses may be traumatised in the aftermath. There may be ‘blanket’ reporting of such events that lasts for days or weeks. It is vital therefore for journalists to take extra care when reporting these stories.
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Drama portrayals of suicide
Suicide and self-harm often feature in storylines for film, television drama and soaps. Care needs to be taken with the way these issues are portrayed as vulnerable viewers may identify closely with certain characters.
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Best practice for broadcast reporting of suicide
Suicide is often a subject of interest across all media. However, broadcasters face some unique challenges when reporting the issue. For instance, producing high quality, live reporting to camera, when the subject matter Suicide is often a subject of interest across all media. However, broadcastrs
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Reporting rail suicides and attempts
Suicides on the railways are public incidents and as such can cause a great deal of distress to witnesses including passengers, train drivers and other rail staff. Because they take place in public and because they may disrupt rail services, media interest is commonplace, particularly from local news outlets.
Occasionally suicides and attempted suicides on the railways attract intense media scrutiny, especially if there have been a number in a single location. Such stories are frequently the lead in a news bulletin or a front-page splash and can have a significant and upsetting impact on bereaved individuals and people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
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Working with bereaved families in the aftermath of a suicide
Approaching the family of a person who has died by suicide can be difficult. Approaching the family of a person who has died by suicide can be difficult with family members and friends, but the particular sensitivities involved when working with people in the midst of intense grief and confusion can make it complicated. This short factsheet is intended to provide journalists with advice on the most appropriate ways to interact with bereaved family members.
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