The words we use in reporting on suicide are so important
According to the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide: “More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals.”
This phenomenon is referred to as suicide contagion and “the magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.”
How To Talk or Write About Suicide
The main message of any article, video or TV show about suicide should be to encourage people to get help when they need it. It is important to advise them where to look for help by including local and national hotline numbers or other crisis resources.
Below are some important recommendations to follow.
Inform, Don't Sensationalize
• Don’t include the word suicide in the headline. For example, “Kate Spade Dead at 55.”
• Don’t use images of the location or method of death, grieving loved ones, memorials or funerals; instead use school, work or family photos.
• If there was a note from the deceased, do not detail what the note contained or refer to it as a “suicide note.”
Choose Your Words Carefully
• Do not use the term “committed suicide.” Instead use “died by suicide,” “completed suicide,” “killed him/herself,” or “ended his/her life.”
• When describing research or studies on suicide, use words like “increase” or “rise” rather than “epidemic” or “skyrocketing.”
• Do not refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful” or a “failed attempt.”
• Do not describe a suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.”
For more information read this informative article form the national Alliance on Mental Illness. Why Suicide Reporting Guidelines Matter
Download the CSC Media Reporting of Suicide Guidelines 2019
Crisis Services Canada CEO
Stephanie MacKendrick is the CEO of Crisis Services Canada and can be reached through our contact form.
Click the button below to download the Crisis Services Canada media information kit.