Sensitive reporting of Suicide in the media can Save Lives. Suicide is a complex topic to discuss but censorship and misinformation can be unhelpful. The Maltese Association of Psychiatry (MAP) in collaboration with the Commissioner of Mental Health and the Psychiatry Department held a meeting with representatives from various Newsrooms last June.
In keeping with the topic of the 4th Annual Conference on Suicide Prevention and Self Harm Behaviours, the MAP issued a set of guidelines for News Reporters giving pointers on how to report such episodes to the general public.
News reporters should avoid sensationalism and speculation while using such instances where they have to report on an episode of suicide to reiterate that it is in fact preventable.
Reporters are duty-bound to avoid misinformation and guide readers who may be contemplating suicide themselves or who have experienced suicide in someone close to them towards seeking appropriate help.
The guidelines advise for Newsrooms to develop their own protocols on how to report suicide as well as taking care of their own employees by fostering an environment of support for those reporting suicide or who are undergoing difficult periods themselves.