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					                                           Developing a piece on...
                    ...suicide?                                                            ...mental Illness?
  Before starting the story ask yourself…                                             Before starting the story ask yourself…
  n Is the story really in the ‘public interest’?                                     n Is the person’s mental illness really a vital part of the story?
  Codes of practice say that suicides generally should not be                         Media guidelines and ethics stress the right to privacy, so only
  reported, as detailed and repeated coverage may present suicide                     include the person’s mental illness if it is verified and relevant
  as an acceptable option.                                                            to the story.
  nIs the story about a celebrity?                                                    n  Will the story contribute to or reduce stigma? Journalists can
                                                               Check out
  While reporting celebrity death is almost             www.mindframe-media.          contribute to an increased community understanding of mental
  unavoidable, reporting of celebrity suicide           info for contact details      illness and dispel the myths associated with
  has been linked to copycat deaths.                     of organisations that        mental illness by accurately and sensitively
                                                                                                                                         Organisations able
  While developing the story ask yourself…                can provide ‘expert         framing stories.
                                                                                                                                             to provide ‘expert
                                                                                      While developing the story                           comment’ can be found
  nIs my information reliable? Advice and
                                                                                                                                             on the Mindframe
  comment should be sought from reputable sources                                     ask yourself…                                           website at www.
  and the accuracy of your information checked. Reporting                             nIs my information accurate? Seek expert
  unsubstantiated claims can be harmful.
                                                                                      advice and comment about mental illness to
   n Is the story in context? Discussing risk factors for suicide, such               ensure your information is reliable and accurate.
  as mental illness, drug-related conditions and other personal or
  interpersonal factors, may increase community understanding.
                                                                                      n Do I need to identify someone by name or photograph? If the
                                                                                      story requires identification of an individual let them know how,
  n  Have my interviewees been affected by suicide? If so, their                                   when and where the information will be published
                    comments may be made while distressed and                                           or broadcast.
                       they could be at risk of suicide themselves, so                  A person is
   It is best to use     codes of practice on privacy, grief and trauma            not ‘a schizophrenic’    n Does my interviewee have a mental
 the word ‘suicide’       should be followed.                                       – they are currently    illness? If so, make sure you have their
sparingly and replace                                                              experiencing, being       informed consent and try to make the
   it with phrases
                         n Is the language appropriate? Some                        treated for, or have     experience less distressing by being
  like ‘took his/her     language, such as ‘successful suicide’                        a diagnosis of       sensitive to the discomfort they may
      own life’.        or ‘suicide epidemic’ can glamorise or                        schizophrenia.
                                                                                                           be feeling.
                       sensationalise suicide. The term ‘commit
                    suicide’ is considered outdated.                                                   nIs the language appropriate? Terms like
  n What have I said about the method or location of death?                           ‘psycho’ and ‘deranged’ reinforce stigma and
  Explicit details of the method and location of suicide have been                    stereotypes. Avoid using colloquial language           Encouraging
  linked with copycat deaths. If the method or location must be                       or language that implies that someone with        people to see their GP
  reported then it should be done in general terms only.                              a mental illness is ‘inherently violent’,         or adding a website or
                                                                                      a ‘victim’, or has a ‘life sentence’.              helpline number like
  Before submitting the story ask yourself…                                                                                                    1800 18 SANE can
                                                                         Adding a           Before submitting the story                        make a difference.
  n Have I encouraged people to seek help if they                   helpline number           ask yourself…
  are distressed? People may be prompted to                     like Lifeline (13 11 14) or
  access support if helplines and other services                                               n Have I encouraged people to seek help?
                                                                 details of local mental
  are included.                                                    health and support          Including helplines and details of local services may
                                                                services can encourage         prompt people to access support.
  n Is the headline and placement of the story
  appropriate? Take care not to give the story too                people to seek help.       n Is the headline and angle appropriate? Give some thought

  much prominence and be mindful of placing the word                                    to the angle of the story and ask yourself if the person’s
  ‘suicide’ in the headline.                                                          mental illness needs to be included in the headline.

        For updated information on facts, statistics, research and further issues to consider when reporting suicide or mental illness, students can go to


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