Media Guidelines:

News stories, articles, and dramatic presentations on the subject of suicide have come under question in the last few years. The concern has been that such presentations may have stimulated some persons to attempt suicide. There is confusion about how the subject of suicide should be treated to minimize this danger.

It is important to report a suicide in a straightforward manner so that the suicide does not appear exciting. Reports should not make the suicidal person appear admirable, nor should they seem to approve of the suicide.

To discourage imitative or copycat suicides, it is important to avoid or minimize:
- Reporting specific details of the method
- Descriptions of a suicide as unexplainable e.g., “He had everything going for him.”
- Reporting romanticized versions of the reasons for the suicide(s), e.g., “We want to be together for all eternity.”
- Simplistic reasons for the suicide, e.g., “Boy dies by suicide because he has to wear braces.”

In addition, the print media can reduce the imitative effect by:
- Printing story on inside page
- If story must appear on first page, print it below the fold
- Avoid the word “suicide” in the headline
- Avoid printing a photo of the person who died by suicide


DO consider whether this particular death is newsworthy.

DO look for links to broader social issues.

DO respect the privacy and grief of family or other ‘survivors’.

DO include reference to their suffering.

DO tell others considering suicide how they can get help.


DON’T shy away from writing about suicide.The more taboo, the more the myth.

DON’T romanticize the act.

DON’T jump to conclusions. The reasons why people kill themselves are usually complex.

DON’T suggest nothing can be done because we usually never know why people kill themselves.

DON’T go into details about the method used.

THIS IS NOT A CRISIS CENTRE

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
PO Box 53082
RPO Rideau Centre
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 1C5

Phone: (613) 702-4446
Fax: (613) 209-4932

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