Suicide and Self-Harm

  1. Always include details of further sources of information and quality assured helpline information when reporting on suicide or self-harm.

    This can be a lifeline for people in distress. Where possible use a 24 hour 7 day a week quality assured helpline information.

  2. Avoid explicit or technical details of method of suicide or self-harm in reports – Avoid explicit or sensational images of suicide or self-harm.

    Providing details of the mechanism and procedure used to carry out a suicide or DSH may lead to the imitation of suicidal behaviour by other people at risk. For example reference can be given to an overdose but not reference to the specific type and number of tablets used.

  3. Avoid brushing over the realities of a suicide or self-harm

    Depiction of a suicide in a TV programme may be damaging if it shows a character that has attempted suicide as immediately recovered, or if it glosses over the grim reality of suicide for example failing to show slow liver failure following a paracetamol overdose.

  4. Avoid disclosing the contents of any suicide note

    This information may sensationalise or romanticize the suicide. It may also provide information which encourages other people to identify with the deceased leading to imitative behaviour or risk causing further upset to the bereaved.

  5. Avoid linking or mentioning the names of websites that encourage or glamorise suicide or self-harm – Discourage the use of permanent memorials.

    This may contain information on method for self-harm or suicide and can cause others to imitative behaviour. An outpouring of grief and expressions of regret may send unhelpful messages of a positive outcome to other distressed and potentially suicidal people.

  6. Avoid labelling places as suicide ‘hotspots’ –
    Photographs or images related to the suicide or self-harm can lead to imitative action by people who are vulnerable. Advertising such locations provides detail about methods of suicide and self-harm and may play a part in drawing more people to that location.
  7. Don’t over emphasise the ‘positive’ results of a person’s suicide or self-harm

    A dangerous message from the media is that suicide achieves results; it makes people sorry or it makes people eulogise you.

  8. Encourage public understanding of the complexity of suicide and self-harm

    People don’t decide to take their own life in response to a single event, however painful they may be, and social conditions alone cannot explain suicide either. The reasons an individual takes their own life are manifold, and suicide should not be portrayed as the inevitable outcome of serious personal problems.

  9. Expose the common myths about suicide and self-harm

    There is an opportunity to educate the public by challenging these myths. Look at the media guidelines for common myths on suicide.

  10. Remember the effect on survivors of suicide – either those who have attempted it or who have been bereaved by suicide.

    It might be helpful to be able to offer interviewees some support such as Samaritans or bereavement support contact information.