Reporting of suicide is a tricky area for journalists.
There’s more than 6,000 suicides a year and Brighton and Hove has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. What’s more the rates are going up dramatically.
Our trainee journalists visit courts, councils and inquests as part of their training and so we invited Chris Brown from the local suicide prevention charity Grassroots to come to talk to students about a subject that remains somewhat taboo in the public arena.
She gave us guidelines for how to report suicide and how to look after ourselves while doing so.
“Inappropriate reporting can lead to copycat suicides, particularly among younger more vulnerable audiences,” she said. “But positive outcomes of suicide reporting include helping to de-mystify it and challenging the stigma that surrounds it.”
She told us that studies in Toronto found that voluntary restrictions on newspaper reporting of subway suicides resulted in a 75% decrease in suicides by this method.
Students were shocked to hear that their reporting can make a difference, resulting in an overall increase in suicide and or an increase in uses of particular methods
Ben Paine, student, said: “The impact which a suicide has is catastrophic.. It is apparent that being bereaved by a suicide can lead to an increased chance of suicide for the bereaved themselves. Grief, loneliness, shame, can lead someone bereaved to taking their own life can elevate the chance of suicide by up to 40%.
“ We learned that by publishing helplines and contact details with the article it may aid any person who has suicidal thoughts by getting them to talk to the right person.”
The Grass Roots Suicide Prevention Organisation website is http://www.prevent-suicide.org.uk/
And the suicide reporting guidelines are here: http://www.samaritans.org/media-centre/media-guidelines-reporting-suicide