The sixth edition of Samaritans’ guidelines has been revised to reflect the significant changes within the media landscape and incorporate the latest research on the impact that portrayals of suicide and self-harm in the media have on suicide rates.
Research published earlier this year showed that media reports of celebrity suicides are associated with a 13% increase in suicides in the following one-two months1. The same research also showed that when suicide methods were reported, the number of deaths in the population using the same method increased by 30%.
While a recent US study found that news reports that follow safe reporting practices were associated with a greater likelihood of being reshared and receiving positive engagement2.
“We know that the current climate has created new challenges for media outlets, in turn adding more pressure on journalists to create of the moment reports. This can be difficult when handling a complex topic like suicide, which requires great sensitivity and care. The media has a very powerful role in preventing suicides. We know that reports and programmes that inform and educate the public about the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour, encourage important conversations and promote the value of speaking out and seeking help.”
Samaritans Media Advisory Lead, Lorna Fraser
Following a consultation with industry leaders and journalists from the UK media last year, the guidelines will feature new guidance on reporting on celebrity suicides, self-harm, youth suicides and suicide clusters, and covering suicide in documentaries, drama and literature.
The new set of guides will help journalists and programme makers to further understand the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour and offer practical tips and advice on covering the topic safely.