Samaritans’ media briefing: Reporting on the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha
There is strong evidence suggesting that imitational suicides occur as a result of extensive media coverage and if the reporting of the suicide method is detailed or sensationalised.
On the opening of the inquest today into the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha Samaritans is asking the media to bear in mind our guidelines for the reporting of suicide and strongly advise the media to follow our specific guidance on this case:
- Avoid explicit details of the suicide method e.g. do not state where and how an individual took their own life or what material was used (ideally, don’t report the method of suicide at all).
- Do not portray a suicide quick, effective, painless or easy.
- Do not disclose the contents of any suicide note.
- Suicide is complex and seldom the result of a single factor, it is likely to have several inter-related causes.
- Remember that family, friends and colleagues who have been bereaved by suicide can be particularly affected by the reporting, as it may exacerbate their feelings of distress.
- Avoid the placement of stories on the front page or in large headlines to guard against sensationalising the story.
- Avoid presenting suicide as an appropriate way to cope with emotional crisis; it is an extreme and irreversible action.
- Where possible sensitively focus on the life achievements of the person and the wastefulness of their death.
- We would be grateful if you could include details of our helpline service: Samaritans is available round-the-clock on 116 123 or email email@example.com
We would also like to remind the media that both Ofcom and the PCC have clauses specifically relating to suicide reporting – a requirement that continues to apply when reporting on inquests.
Editors’ Code of Practice – Clause 5.i and 5.ii
Ofcom Broadcasting Code – Rule 2.5 Suicide and Self-harm
For further advice on the reporting of this case, please contact Samaritans’ Press Office on: 0208 394 8300 or out-of-hours on 07943 809162.