Samaritans praises EastEnders for tackling Peggy Mitchell’s story

Leading suicide prevention charity Samaritans has praised BBC1 soap opera, EastEnders, for working with them on Peggy Mitchell’s story.

The charity was approached by the soap to work alongside their researchers and script writers, to help ensure that viewers weren’t exposed to unnecessary risk.

Lorna Fraser, Samaritans’ Media Adviser, said “Research shows that coverage of suicide in drama and news, if handled responsibly, can prompt people who are struggling with life to reach out for help – which is a vital step in suicide prevention. However, covering this sensitive, complex topic also carries risk of contagion, therefore careful handling is vital. 

“Our aim is not to shut down coverage of suicide, as this would drive the discussion underground and discourage people from speaking out if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

“Our role is to help programme makers create safe, responsible content, to help aid discussion of this delicate issue. In this way programmes, including soaps, can help raise awareness of some of the issues surrounding suicide, such as the devastation caused for loved ones – an issue EastEnders have starkly depicted through Peggy’s story. Often when a person reaches a point of becoming suicidal, they lose sight of this, sometimes even believing their loved ones would be better off without them. Which is clearly not the case – the impact of suicide leaves behind long-lasting repercussions. 

“We are delighted that EastEnders continues to work with us and urge other TV dramas and news organisations to do the same.”

Samaritans has been working closely with the media industry as a whole for over two decades, the charity first published its Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide in 1994.

We would encourage any viewers who have been affected by Peggy’s story to get in touch with Samaritans, we are here day and night, to listen and give confidential support. People can call us free of charge from any phone on 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or find the details for your local branch. Calls to Samaritans’ helpline do not show up on phone bills.

Text SUPPORT to 70123 to give £3 to Samaritans. This is a one-off donation which will be charged at £3 plus one message at your standard network rate (based on your service provider rates). Samaritans receives 100% of your donation. For questions about your donation, please call 03709 00 00 32. Full T&Cs can be found here

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

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Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans Media Guidelines on the reporting of suicide and attempted suicide are available here
  • You don’t have to be suicidal to call us. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 21,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope.  Find out how you can support us: http://www.samaritans.org/support-us