Suicide

Following a series of complaints about media coverage of suicide in the UK, MediaWise undertook research into journalism codes of conduct and training on the issue. This work was part of joint project with Befrienders International that included a comprehensive global review of research finding about the impact of suicide coverage (‘Suicidal Behaviour and the Mass Media’) conducted by Kathryn Williams and Keith Hawton, of the Centre for Suicide Research, Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University.

We then developed and delivered training for media professionals which was refined after testing with NUJ members and journalism students in the UK, and with media professionals in the Asia Pacific region and South East Asia. We also worked with the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo on a study of media coverage in Sri Lanka, producing materials in Sinhala and Tamil.

This work was followed up by the production of international Guidelines in the form of a leaflet jointly sponsored by Befrienders International, the NUJ and the IFJ. Funding for the project was also received from Syngenta.

Sensitive Coverage Saves Lives (2007)
Compiled by MediaWise on behalf of the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) and the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as part of the Shift programme to reduce stigma and discrimination, and the national suicide prevention strategy for England. The report examines the efficacy of existing guidelines on suicide reporting for journalists, reviews recent media coverage and to makes recommendations for action by media organisations and suicide prevention agencies to encourage sensitive and responsible coverage of suicidal behaviour.

Taiwan Progress Report (2007)
This report outlines findings from the Suicide and the Media Symposium held in Taipei on 17 November 2006, organised by the National Cheng-Chi University and The MediaWise Trust, and a subsequent lecture tour by MediaWise Director Mike Jempson.

Suicide coverage: time to take stock
MediaWise Bulletin by Mike Jempson, 4 April 2006.

PCC and Editor’s Code Committee must act on suicide coverage
MediaWise Bulletin by Mike Jempson, 6 January 2006.

Covering Suicide Worldwide: Media Responsibilities (2001/2006)
Guidelines, training and ethical issues raised by the latest review of research about the impact of media coverage on suicidal behaviour. Compiled by Bill Norris and Mike Jempson (The PressWise Trust) with Lesley Bygrave (Befrienders International) in 2001 and updated by Einar Thorsen in 2006.

The Media and Suicide: Guidelines for Journalists from Journalists (2003)
The MediaWise Trust, the National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) complied these guidelines in consultation with suicide prevention agencies. The aim of the guidelines is to assist print, broadcast and online journalists to appreciate the risks associated with suicide coverage, and suggest simple ways of avoiding unnecessary harm. The leaflet is also available in French and Spanish.

Suicide Sensitive Journalism Handbook (2003)
A joint study conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka and MediaWise.

Further resources on the media and suicide are available here.