It has come to my attention in recent weeks that not everyone in the media game are aware of the Samaritans Guidelines on the reporting of suicide. Especially as new media gives rise to official organisations tweeting and blogging, there are new pitfalls. One excellent twitter account within my force area recently wanted, quite rightly, to highlight some excellent work by police officers in keeping someone safe following a suspected suicide attempt and fell straight into the traps we are advised to avoid.
As a result, all West Midlands Police Twitter account-managers have now had the guidelines circulated to them.
The essence of these guidelines is to avoid certain methods of reporting which may have indirect consequences or offer indirect information. As such, they are of relevance not only to traditional media, but to those of us using new media to inform and educate. I am far from perfect in this, I admit to taking deep breaths after I fully read the guidelines for myself and immediately had thoughts about this blog and things I have written in the past.
These guidelines are worth reading from start to finish if you want to report or mention suicide.
The resources you need are:
- The Samaritans website
- The web-page for all kinds of contact with the Samaritans –
- Their 24hr helpline is: 08457 90 90 90 (charges apply)
- They can be emailed on: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are tweeting and / or blogging on the subject of suicide, don’t forget to offer access to a support helpline for people who may be affected by reading your materials. In addition to the Samaritans, other resources are available in connection with mental health issues from major mental charities like Mind and Rethink.
Please take the time to read these guidelines.
The Mental Health Cop blog
– won the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
– won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs
– was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
– was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.