Resolution Statement – 05905-19 A woman v

    • Date complaint received

      17th October 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      4 Intrusion into grief or shock, 5 Reporting suicide

Resolution Statement - 05905-19 A woman v

Summary of Complaint

1.    A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the breached Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 5 (Reporting of suicide) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined “Science student took lethal dose of caffeine after learning about toxic levels" published on 23 August 2019.

2.    The article reported on an inquest of a student who took her own life by overdosing on a named substance. It included several photos of the student taken from her social media profiles.

3.    The complainant, the deceased’s sister, said that the photographs of her sister used in the article had caused her and her family great distress in breach of Clause 4. The complainant also said that the article contained excessive detail of a little known method of suicide, including where it could be bought from and its specific effects on the body.

4.    The publication did not accept that the information published represented a breach of the Code. However, as a gesture of goodwill, the publication removed the image of the complainant’s sister on receipt of the complaint.

Relevant Code Provisions

5.    Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)

In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

Clause 5 (Reporting Suicide)*

When reporting suicide, to prevent simulative acts care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used, while taking into account the media's right to report legal proceedings.

Mediated Outcome

6.    The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7.    During IPSO’s investigation, as a gesture of goodwill, the publication offered to remove the entire article from its website.

8.    The complainant said this would resolve her complaint to her satisfaction.

9.    As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.


Date complaint received: 06/08/2019

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 26/09/2019