Samaritans welcomes introduction of new clause to help reduce imitational suicide risk in Republic of Ireland

The national suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has welcomed today’s announcement of the Press Council of Ireland’s decision to add a new sub-clause to their Code of Practice, which directly addresses how the press should report on suicide.

The new sub-clause will require newspapers and magazines to avoid giving excessive details of methods used, when covering suicide.

Significant worldwide research demonstrates links between certain types of media coverage of suicide and imitative behaviour, among vulnerable people. This risk increases significantly if detailed descriptions of suicide methods are given and if the coverage romanticises or sensationalises suicide.

Catherine Brogan, Executive Director with Samaritans Ireland, said: "Suicide is a very sensitive and challenging subject to report on and requires journalists to balance what is in the public interest with the risk of influencing imitational suicides, among those who may be vulnerable.

“Having worked closely with the Press Council to introduce this new clause to the Code of Practice, which we know is what reporters work to every day, Samaritans believes this is a significant development which will encourage responsible reporting and ultimately contribute to suicide prevention.

Samaritans has been working with the media in Ireland for over two decades providing expert advice on how to approach this very sensitive topic through their Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide, produced with the Irish Association of Suicidology.

Catherine continued: “We recognise that the media can play a hugely important role in raising awareness of the issues surrounding suicide, signposting to sources of support and encouraging people who are struggling to cope to seek help. We look forward to continuing this work with the Press Council and media outlets across Ireland.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Rachel Wright, Samaritans Ireland on + 353 85 860 5554 or at r.wright@samartians.org.

Note to editors:

The Samaritans’ and IAS Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide can be accessed online here.
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. Please call 116 123 (ROI)  or 08457 90 90 90 in the UK, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.