Trigger Warning: suicide and suicidal thoughts
Nerissa Young, a lecturer from Ohio University specializing in mental health and media, and Erica Hill, a news director affected by suicide, hosted a reporting on suicide session at EIJ19.
Mental health is prominent in today’s news cycle, with suicide being at the forefront of discussions. The World Health Organization reports suicide as the 18th leading cause of death worldwide. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics says to minimize harm. Journalists have a responsibility to report on suicide in ways that don’t condemn or perpetuate myths and copycat suicides.
Here are a list of five tips Young and Hill recommend when reporting about suicide.
- Do not use “committed suicide”- The term implies someone did something wrong. Use “died by suicide” instead.
- Do not report on the method of the suicide- This can lead to an uptake in suicides, especially those using that specific method.
- Always place a trigger warning at the beginning of the story and resources at the end- This allows those who are struggling, a way to get help.
- Convey suicide as a health problem that can be reduced with proper support and treatment- Suicidal thoughts can get better for individuals with treatment.
- Be proactive- Report stories about the suicide statistics more than just when a suicide happens.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741