SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
The Recommendations for Media Reporting on Suicide was developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), among others and is available at www.ReportingOnSuicide.org.
“Research show that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is through safe media reporting,” said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, Executive Director of SAVE. “So in developing these recommendations it was vital to work with not only suicide prevention experts, but also journalists to create a useful, straight-forward tool that reporters and news media organizations can turn to when reporting on suicide.”
The recommendations were developed by a group of suicide prevention experts, researchers and journalists and are based on more than 50 research studies. Included in the updated recommendations is advice for online journalists including bloggers, message board forums and moderators and “citizen journalists.”
“Suicide takes a devastating toll on our nation, communities and individual lives,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde J.D. “These new recommendations will help journalists in their efforts to broaden public understanding about this national tragedy and what may be done to prevent it.”
“We understand that media reports about suicide are sometimes newsworthy and informative for the public, but we also know that certain ways of reporting about suicide can unintentionally contribute to further suicides,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “And, in today’s vast online and social media world, it is even more important for journalists to report safely as news can be instantly shared with millions of people.”
The recommendations include common suicide warning signs, the national suicide prevention hotline number and advice on what to do if someone is at risk, so that journalists can include this information in news reports. Furthermore, the document provides concise, practical suggestions for journalists to equip them to report about suicide safely while also informing the public about this national health problem.
A new website www.ReportingOnSuicide.org will provide easy access to the recommendations as well as include additional information such as links to supporting research, media examples, and further tips for online new sites and bloggers.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are more than 1 million suicides each year. In the U.S. suicide is a serious national health problem that cuts across all ages and demographics. Each year more than 34,000 die by suicide and it is the fourth leading cause of death among adults 18 to 65. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the second leading cause of death among college students. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy as well as to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. To learn more about AFSP, visit www.afsp.org.
About Suicide Awareness Voices in Education:
SAVE works to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, and serving as a resource to those touched by suicide. To learn more about SAVE, visit www.save.org.
Dr. Daniel J. Reidenberg, PsyD, FAPA
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
952-946-7998 / [email protected]
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
212-363-3500 Ext. 24 / [email protected]