Evidence suggests that certain types of media reporting are tied to an increase in suicides (also known as suicide contagion). When not handled carefully, each of the following elements has been shown to raise the risk of suicide for people tempted to imitate the publicized behavior:
  • Placement — If you determine the story is newsworthy, don’t dramatize the event by placing it on the front page—or by placing “suicide” in the headline. (In headlines, “dies” is appropriate.)
  • Details — Avoid exact details on locations and methods.
  • Photos/videos — Avoid photos or videos of the location or method of death, as well as dramatic images of grieving family and friends or memorial services.
  • Language — The words committed, succeeded or failed are inaccurate. Appropriate wording is that someone died by suicide, took his life or killed herself.
  • Don’t oversimplify — Suicide is complex and often has many factors. It is almost certainly inaccurate to cite a single cause as, for example, “recent money woes” or “a fight with a spouse.” Suicides usually result when a confluence of events and circumstances makes life temporarily unbearable. Mental health disorders and/or substance abuse are associated with 90 percent of suicides. Often, even family and friends do not recognize the warning signs or the underlying mental health problems leading to a suicide.
[For more information on covering suicide consult these resources:

and these resources from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma:

« Back to Glossary Index

Share This!