Commenting on the media coverage following the death of Robin Williams, Sophie Borromeo, Director of Communications at Samaritans said:
“The media has come a long way over the past few years in terms of sensitively reporting suicide, which is why we are concerned to see that there have been a large number of articles detailing unnecessary information about the nature of Robin Williams’ death. We are taking steps to address our concerns.
“Research shows that inappropriate portrayal of suicide in the media can lead to imitative behaviour amongst vulnerable people and this risk is heightened when a celebrity has died in this way. We issued a briefing to the media yesterday reminding them of these risks and specifically asking them to avoid reporting explicit details of the suicide method. We also offered guidance on reporting the death appropriately. For the most part it’s positive to see the media has talked about the complexities of suicide and the need to breakdown the stigma around mental health issues, as well as encouraging people to seek help.
“Samaritans has been working with the media for over two decades to help promote sensitive and appropriate reporting. We publish media guidelines for reporting suicide, which are freely available on our website: http://www.samaritans.org/media-centre/media-guidelines-reporting-suicide.
“Samaritans' media team are experts in the field of the safe portrayal of suicide and we strongly urge the media to act on our advice and contact us if in doubt.”