Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 404. Updated Tuesday, 08 April 2014

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New guide for media reporting of suicide

A new guide for media reporting of suicide has been launched by the national media initiative for mental health, Mindframe.

Funded by the Department of Health and managed at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in Newcastle, Reporting suicide and mental illness: A Mindframe resource for media professionals is the result of two years' consultation between media organisations and mental health and suicide prevention bodies.

The Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, said it was a practical resource, building on existing codes of practice and editorial policies.

Key changes to the guide include shorter, clearer advice to support journalists to understand the risks involved when reporting on suicide and mental illness, and new suggestions on how to minimise these risks.

Support for journalists

There is guidance on language to avoid stigmatising people living with or developing a mental illness and advice to the media who may be at risk themselves.

There are also new guidelines for the online environment.

“This is not about imposing rules per se on the media for reporting and communicating on this most sensitive of issues,” Mr Dutton said.

“The media helps shape and reinforce social attitudes towards, and perceptions of, suicide and mental illness – and this resource will support them in that important role,” he said.

Mindframe, funded by the Department, is the national authority on the portrayal of suicide and mental illness in the media, providing education and training for both media and the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.

More information is available at this PS News link.

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