Reporting suicide, take two

I’ve blogged on this topic before, but it seems some editors aren’t interested in responsible reporting. This story on News.com.au, Fans of Michael Jackson ‘commit suicide’, is completely irresponsible.

Reporting guidelines state the word ‘suicide’ shouldn’t be used in headlines, and in the body text it should be used sparingly. In fact, it should be replaced with “took own life/made a fatal decision/the last decision”. It’s about not glamourising suicide – which this story certainly does. Upset over Michael Jackson’s death? Why not kill yourself? His real fans are doing it.

The story shouldn’t be in a prominent position, but in this case it’s the second ranked story on the website. And they’re also running a story in the Weird True Freaky section about a man trying to kill himself. Classy.

You also shouldn’t call someone a suicide, but this story describes callers to Lifeline as “suicidal”. Not the most sensitive thing to do.

The important contacts:
Lifeline 131 114
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
Beyondblue
Sane
And nothing beats a great GP.

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