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Media Charged With Sensationalism

According to latest figures revealed in Ireland, suicide is the most popular cause of death among men and women below the age of 35years//. There were 431 registered suicides in 2005,with approximately 6% of those recorded as copycat suicides.

The HSE today appealed to the media not to sensationalize suicides, adding that a significant number of these deaths were preventable.

“We are sensing that there is more reporting of suicide and we need to be cautious and careful on how we do that. It needs to be reported in a factual way but not be over-dramatic”, HSE’s Geoff Day said speaking at the launch of a new set of guidelines for the portrayal of suicide in the media”, he said.

“Although suicide is a legitimate subject for media coverage and reportage, certain types of portrayals and reporting are potentially harmful, and can act as a catalyst to influence the behavior of those who are already vulnerable. The media has an extremely important role to play in educating the public about suicide and the wider issues involved that may lead people to feel suicidal. These guidelines, outline practical measures for those in the media to refer to when dealing with this sensitive subject.” he added.

The guidelines, published by the HSE’s National Office of Suicide Prevention, in alliance with the Samaritans and the Irish Association of Suicidology, focuses on copycat deaths and reiterates that this behavior imitates certain coverage and portrayals of suicide in the media.

It also urges the media to avoid details of the suicides, such as the methods used, dramatic photographs, and subtly implying that positive results can be achieved by suicide.

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