Suicide reporting - advice for digital media

1. Sources

Apply extra vigilance when using online sources for a suicide story.

Speculation about a death or the circumstances surrounding a person dying can easily be misreported or wrongly repeated as fact.

The instantaneous and ‘viral’ circulation of information online makes it all the more important to double check the reliability and trustworthiness of online sources of information.

2. Chat rooms

Take care when using content from chat rooms, pro-suicide websites and other online forums, and try to avoid identifying these sites.

This can be damaging to vulnerable people, driving them to these sources, and distressing for bereaved families.

3. Forums

If your site solicits feedback from readers or users in the form of comment threads or their own submissions, try and make sure that the terms of use are clear, including what constitutes inappropriate material.

We recommend proactive monitoring and moderating of comments to guard against hosting information that could influence vulnerable people, including discussion of methods.

4. Referencing

Websites and social networking sites may be used by some people to eulogise or memorialise a person who died as a result of suicide.

Be careful if referencing such sites, especially where they refer to young people, as it may glamorise a death.

5. Images and videos

Consider the impact on bereaved families and friends before using images from social networking sites to illustrate a story.

Do the same before linking to an online video of, or about, the person who has died.

6. Language

When using social networking tools to promote a story, apply the same caution you would if writing a headline; for example, by checking that the language is appropriate.

7. Support

Add links to sources of support, such as Samaritans, whenever possible.