Media guidelines

Local media – particularly newspapers and radio – can be a excellent way to let people know about:

  • positive mental health messages 
  • suicide prevention activities.

After a suicide, the media can also be very useful for: 

  • sending messages of hope and empowerment
  • telling people about support services available.

On the other hand, negative or insensitive reporting of suicide can cause great hurt and offence to a grieving family, friends and the wider community.

If the media sensationalises a suicide or gives it too much or inappropriate coverage it can increase the risk of more suicides, especially among teenagers and young adults.

Guidelines developed by Mindframe, The National Media Initiative encourage responsible and helpful communication and media reporting on suicide deaths, and on suicide prevention activities.

Find out more about talking to the media.

Your community action plan should include specific reference to how you will let everyone know about these guidelines and how the guidelines will be applied in your area.

The Mindframe team at Everymind or the SANE Media Centre can help and advise suicide prevention networks and the media on how best to support local activity.

The National Mental Health Commission Communication Charter is another good place to start.

It's helpful to create relationships with media outlets that publish and broadcast in languages other than English so that people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background are not left out. Multicultural NSW is a good place to get contacts, help and ideas.

It’s also important to have a plan for dealing with social media. Traditional and social media are great ways to bring people together, to let them know what’s happening and to let them get involved. But it’s important to make sure that social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, is monitored and is safe for all who participate.

Work-in-progress checklist

  • Are key spokesperson and media outlets aware of the media/communication guidelines?
  • Have they used the guidelines in their work?
  • What changes in the appropriateness of public communication and media coverage have occurred in the past 12 months?

Information you should keep

  • Interviews with key spokespeople and journalists/editors
  • Media monitoring, i.e. stories, content, frequency