Media and Online Media

When reporting suicide news, the media and online media can construct a “Do No Harm” style of reporting as well as making beneficial contributions towards preventing suicide.

Suggestions for handling suicide news:

  1. Ensure privacy and/or anonymity and take into consideration the feelings of high-risk individuals related to the incident
    • Respect the privacy of survivors or individuals who have attempted suicide. Avoid reporting their entire name, showing pictures which could result in identification of those individuals, or disclosing any other information which could result in their identification
    • Survivors and individuals who have attempted suicide are considered to be in a relatively high risk of suicide. Media professionals should maintain caring attitudes and practice active listening when interviewing them. Pay attention to their psychological well-being and refer them to professionals when necessary (e.g. psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.)
  2. Promote public mental health education and prevention of suicide
    • Mention the signs that may be present in a suicidal victim when reporting. This will raise the public’s awareness.
    • Remind the public suicide is never a solution to any problem. Encourage individuals with difficulties to seek help, and provide any hotlines which handle those sorts of matters.
  3. Avoid the Werther/Copycat Effect
    • Avoid placing suicide incidents on the front page of newspapers.
    • Avoid connecting suicide cases together in a simplified manner (e.g. a quantitative style or in a list format)
    • Avoid simplifying the motive for a suicide or imply that suicidal behavior is a common occurrence within certain groups in society.
    • Avoid going into too much detail regarding the venue and method for a suicide. Avoid glamorously describing suicide methods (e.g. “painless”, “quick”, “comfortable”, etc.).

Vocabulary Usage Relating to Suicide

Not Recommended Recommended
On Suicide Commit suicide
Jump into one’s death
Successful suicide
Completed Suicide
Kill oneself
Die from suicide
Death by suicide
On Self-harm Deliberate self-harm
On Attempted Suicide Unsuccessful suicide
Failed suicide
Suicide ideation
Attempted suicide

Colleagues within the media may also encounter mental health problems when working on these topics. We encourage media institutions to care for the employees’ mental wellbeing, and encourage any persons in a difficult situation to seek assistance.

For more detailed information on reporting suicide incidents, please refer to the Recommendations on Suicide Reporting & Online Information Dissemination for Media Professionals