We work with the media in a number of ways to promote our work and raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
Senior Communications Officer
09 623 4810 ext 811 or 021 740 454
Development Manager Communications, Marketing & Information
09 623 4810 ext 840 or 021 300 594
One of the ways to make media reporting as safe as possible is to include contact details for helplines and support services whenever reporting on suicide, so that vulnerable readers, viewers, or listeners can access help and support if they need it. Having highlighted the problem, it is important to guide people toward solutions.
Reporting Suicide: A resource for the media is a very useful and important addition to responsible newsrooms big and small around the country.
The resource was developed for the Ministerial Committee on Suicide Prevention by a working group of media, mental health professionals, agencies working in the area and government agencies, and has been adopted by the Media Freedom Committee and the Newspaper Publishers’ Association.
The guide is designed for quick access by busy journalists, and the format is indeed easy to follow. It uses a simple “traffic light” approach to helping the media talk about suicide in a way that helps them report facts and think about the consequences without endangering the lives of others or misleading people through inappropriate blame or over-simplification.
Best practices are organised into “Do” (green light), “Think” (amber) and “Don’t” (red) guide publications reporting on suicide and self harm, including what language and facts to use, how to approach bereaved families and friends, and how to understand the role of social networking and cultural and spiritual attitudes.
The guideline’s “at a glance” handiness is reinforced by just enough detail to keep the messages sensible and doable without sounding preachy or over cautious – something most reporters would baulk at for fear of seeing their story sliding into dullsville. In addition, there are three other useful and concise sections in the document.
First, the debunking of four common myths about reporting suicide. This section supports the fact that there is no constraint on the media or anyone else talking about the issue of suicide, and reminds us all that it is okay to talk to people who might be thinking about harming themselves and encourage them to seek help.
Second, a concise explanation of the Coroners Act 1996, which by law all reporters and editors must adhere to when reporting on individual suicides.
And, third, a helpful list of information and support sites that can be used in stories to assist readers, for comment or by the reporters themselves. One suggestion is for reporters to think about keeping themselves and their colleagues “safe” because “reporting suicide can be traumatic”.