The Samaritans Media Guidelines on Suicide

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:

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.

Winner of the President’s Medal,
the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award


All views expressed are my own – they do not represent the views of any organisation.
(c) Michael Brown, 2012

I try to keep this blog up to date, but inevitably over time, amendments to the law as well as court rulings and other findings from inquests and complaints processes mean it is difficult to ensure all the articles and pages remain current.  Please ensure you check all legal issues in particular and take appropriate professional advice where necessary.

Government legislation website –


3 thoughts on “The Samaritans Media Guidelines on Suicide

  1. Great Blog. I’m a fellow serving officer, and suffer from M H issues. I have made use of the samaritans myself, and have recently applied to volunteer for them. A cause that is only going to be under greater strain with financial pressures, and increasing numbers of end users.

  2. As a retired police officer who now volunteers as a listening Samaritan, you cannot be a Samaritan if you are a serving Police Officer.

  3. Apologies, you can volunteer but not be a listening Samaritan until you leave the Police force

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