IPSO launches Guidance for journalists and Information for the public on reporting Suicide

IPSO has published its Guidance for Journalists on the Reporting of Suicide, in addition to a public information leaflet on the topic. 

The guidance states that media portrayals of suicide can influence suicidal behaviour and lead to copycat acts, particularly among vulnerable groups or young people. Publishing excessive details about a suicide may lead to further deaths. 

It notes that the media should take particular care when reporting on novel methods, to prevent attention being drawn to a relatively unusual method of suicide. As inquests are held in public, the information revealed during proceedings is already in the public domain and is not private to the family of the deceased. 

When reporting on inquests and other legal proceedings, the publication’s role is to give an accurate account of the evidence given.  

The guidance also reminds journalists that IPSO can provide non-binding, 24-hour pre-publication advice on the Editors’ Code of Practice if they need support for decision-making in this sensitive area. 

“We are proud to launch this guidance and public information to support the press to cover suicides and inquests sensitively and with care and help the public to understand what they need to know if they are personally affected,” says Rosemary Douce, IPSO’s Senior Standards Officer.  

The public information leaflet contains material about how journalists should report stories on suicide accurately but avoid unnecessary reporting of the details of the method of suicide. Reports about inquests must accurately reflect what is heard, but at the same time journalists must approach bereaved families and friends sensitively. It is then their choice if they would like to speak to the press or not.   

Charlotte Dewar, IPSO’s Chief Executive, says the two documents will help to ensure high standards of reporting:  

“This guidance and public information on reporting about suicide are the result of thorough research and engagement. We are grateful to all those who have helped us develop these resources, including organisations working in this area, journalists, and people who have been personally affected by suicide.” 

The public information leaflet differs from the suicide guidance for journalists in that it explains how members of the public can approach IPSO, if they are facing press harassment or can get a private advisory notice issued, if they want to request the media to stop approaching them. 

The information explains the process journalists should follow if they talk to a bereaved person, what happens during an interview, and what follows when the media publish a story about someone’s death by suicide. It also lists organisations that a member of the public can reach out to if they have been affected by someone’s death by suicide. 

To read the complete Guidance for Journalists on the reporting of Suicide, visit:  https://www.ipso.co.uk/media/2441/reporting-suicide-journalist-guidance-2023.pdf

To see the Public Information on the Reporting of Suicide, visit: https://www.ipso.co.uk/media/2440/suicide-public-2023.pdf