Guidelines for ethical media reporting on suicide

Smernice za etičko medijsko izveštavanje o samoubistvu

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Guidelines for ethical media reporting on suicide

May 23, 2023

Suicide is not only a tragic act that affects individuals and families, but a public health problem that requires a systemic approach at both national and global levels. Suicides are also a gender problem, since men make up the majority of those who commit suicide in Serbia. The media has a significant role in reporting on mental health, because the presence of stigma, lack of understanding and presence of stereotypes represents one of the main challenges in suicide prevention, and media can become allies in overcoming them.

In terms of media coverage,  suicide is a sensitive topic, because it can easily trigger very intense feelings in the audience and lead to suicidal ideas. Sensationalism in reporting, use of inadequate vocabulary, and simplification of the causes or difficulties that the person faced - contribute to the spread of stigma and prevent people from turning to someone for help in case of need. The guidelines for ethical media reporting on suicide were prepared with the aim of helping journalists in their work to contribute to an adequate understanding of the complexity of suicide, including suicide committed through firearms misuse, and to act preventively, developing awareness and knowledge, but also responsibility in the field of mental health.