How To and How Not To Report on Suicide

With the recent deaths by suicide of Kate Spade, Ines Zoreguietta, and Anthony Bourdain, we’ve been shocked at the recent quality of national suicide reports. As we researched these news stories, we were saddened at what little thought and care on what was put into how these articles were written. Most, if not all, of these sites covered the deaths in a way that has PROVEN to increase the number of suicides across the US and world.

Over 50 studies have shown the same results…

 

In this study, suicide reports were analyzed over several countries, different outlets, and languages. Guess what they found? More reporting=more suicide deaths. More reporting on details=more copycat deaths. Even during times when a suicide wasn’t reported because of newspaper strikes, there was a DECREASE in suicide deaths during that time.

Remarkable isn’t it? The power of suicide reports in media coverage? So, don’t we, as fighters for better suicide prevention, want to call these news reports out on the carpet? If they truly care about you and your loved ones, they will follow all of the best practices when it comes to deaths by suicide.

And even for you, too. Even your Instagram and Facebook posts can help or hurt. So, please, consider these best practices when you want to add your voice to the suicide conversation:

Do…

  • …Use the phrase “death by suicide” or “died by suicide” as it is more respectful and unsensationalized
  • …Offer support: PLEASE offer a resource for those who have suicidal thoughts. These are some national resources you can consider:
    • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 
    • Crisis Text Line 741741 
    • Substance Abuse and Mental
    • Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP 
    • Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990
    • NAMI Helpline 800-950-NAMI (6264)
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233) 
    • National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673)Check out the local helplines for your state: http://www.sprc.org/states
  • …Include warning signs if possible to help those who aren’t considering suicide but might have friends who are
  • …Use words like “rise of suicide deaths” to focus more on the facts
  • …Encourage others to reach out to you if you are willing to be a helping hand
  • …Report on recovery and hope for a better life, it is possible and there are many options for improved mood, circumstances, and hope

Don’t…

  • …Sensationalize it. Suicide isn’t something that should be reported on as a way to get viewership
  • …Give facts about time, place, and method, this encourages copycat suicide deaths
  • …Use words like “committed suicide” as this adds to the stigma that suicide is a “selfish” act
  • …Analyze the cause of death, suicide is a complicated and incredibly personal thing
  • …Use words like “suicides skyrocket” this is the same as sensationalizing

Honestly, a short condolences post for suicide reports with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is always a good way to go. Or post the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline logo along with your condolences:

 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there is hope for a better future. Recovery is possible, and you are loved and valued, even when you don’t see it.

Please add your suggestions for best practices, and please share this article to spread the word in order to save lives!

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