Samaritans and Irish Association of Suicidology launch guidelines for reporting on suicide

Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health launched today revised Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide, produced by Samaritans and the Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS), at an event held in Dublin.

Photo, from left to right: Gerry Raleigh, National Office for Suicide Prevention; Clare Duignan, MC; Rachel Wright, Samaritans; Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister for Mental Health; Professor Stephen Platt, University of Edinburgh; Professor Ella Arensman, National Suicide Research Foundation; Johnny Nevin, Maynooth Post-Primary School and Jane Arigho, Headline.

Catherine Brogan, Samaritans Executive Director for Ireland, said:

"Suicide can be a difficult subject to report on and requires journalists to balance what is in the public interest with the risk of influencing imitative behaviour among those who may be vulnerable.

"Talking about suicide in the media, when done responsibly, can help to raise awareness of the issues and encourage help-seeking behaviour by highlighting important sources of support, such as Samaritans’ helpline".

The guidelines, which are based on over two decades of close work with the media, provide practical guidance for reporters and programme makers on how to handle this sensitive issue safely. Written by Irish mental health writer, Mary O’Hara, this new edition have been developed following Samaritans’ widest ever consultation with journalists, suicide academia and relevant stakeholder groups.

Dr. John Connolly, Honorary Secretary IAS, said:

"As the years go by research into suicide and the media is more and more robust in establishing the association between certain types of portrayal and imitational behaviour".

Speaking at today’s event Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch TD said:

"I greatly welcome the publication of these updated media guidelines. I would like to thank Samaritans and the Irish Association of Suicidology for undertaking this initiative.

"Research tells us that there is a clear link between how suicide is portrayed in the media and imitative behaviour among vulnerable people.  Equally, when suicide is reported carefully and sensitively, the media have a positive contribution to make to public understanding of this important matter by encouraging people to seek help by highlighting sources of support such as Samaritans.

"Suicide is a major issue for society and the media can play an important part in the efforts needed to provide accurate information and a greater understanding of suicide.

"There is no single or simple solution to address the issue of suicide. What we need is a collaborative approach which recognises the complexity of the issue and the contribution that can be made across all sectors of our society.  However, I am confident that by working together – policy makers, statutory service providers, voluntary organisations, the media and the wider community - we can reduce the number of deaths by suicide".

Samaritans provide a safe place to talk for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

ENDS

For further information please contact Samaritans Ireland on 01 6710071 or at r.wright@samartians.org.

Notes to editors:

The Samaritans’ and IAS Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide can be accessed online here http://www.samaritans.org/your-community/samaritans-work-ireland/media-g... .
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. Please call 1850 60 90 90 (ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.