Australian Press Council's Specific Standards on Coverage of Suicide
General reporting and discussion
1. General reporting and comment on issues relating to
suicide can be of substantial public benefit. For example, it may help to improve
public understanding of causes and warning signs, have a deterrent effect on
people contemplating suicide, bring comfort to affected relatives or friends,
or promote further public or private action to prevent suicide.
2. Subject to careful compliance with the following
Standards, the Council does not wish to discourage material of this nature.
Extra caution is required when the material is likely to be read or seen by
people who may be especially vulnerable (e.g., because of their age or mental
health) and relates to suicides by their peers or by celebrities.
3. In deciding whether to report an individual instance
of suicide, consideration should be given to whether at least one of the
following criteria is satisfied:
- clear and informed consent has been provided by appropriate relatives or close friends;
- reporting the death as
suicide is clearly in the public interest.
4. In deciding whether also to report the identity of
the person who has died by suicide, account should be taken of whether at least
one of the following criteria is satisfied:
- clear and informed consent has
been provided by appropriate relatives or close friends; or
- identification is clearly in
the public interest.
methods and locations
5. The method and location of a suicide should not be
described in detail (e.g., a particular drug or cliff) unless the public
interest in doing so clearly outweighs the risk, if any, of causing further
suicides. This applies especially to methods or locations which may not be well
known by people contemplating suicide.
6. Reports should not sensationalise, glamorise or
trivialise suicides. They should not inappropriately stigmatise suicides or
people involved in them. But this does not preclude responsible description or
discussion of the impacts, even if they are severely adverse, on people,
organisations or communities. Where appropriate, underlying causes such as
mental illness should be mentioned.
7. Reports of suicide should not be given undue
prominence, especially by unnecessarily explicit headlines or images. Great
care should be taken to avoid causing unnecessary harm or hurt to people who
have attempted suicide or to relatives and other people who have been affected
by a suicide or attempted suicide. This requires special sensitivity and
moderation in both gathering and reporting news.
8. Published material relating to suicide should be
accompanied by information about appropriate 24-hour crisis support services or
other sources of assistance with these problems.
The degree of specificity may vary according to the nature of the report and
the surrounding circumstances.