News Stories and Headlines: Reporting on Suicide, by Rachel Papke
The news of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s death by suicide is in today’s headlines across the nation. Many of the headlines and details I’ve seen and heard in these stories are unfortunately not following safe messaging recommendations. Suicide is a serious and preventable public health issue that must always be reported on in a way that is safe.
Media outlets need to take responsibility and understand that the way they cover suicide can influence behavior negatively if the recommendations for safe messaging aren’t followed. The risk of additional suicides increases if the stories describe the suicide method, use dramatic headlines, repeatedly cover, or sensationalize the death.
Reporting on suicide carefully can help change public misperceptions and encourage people who are at-risk or vulnerable to get help. Two key parts of safe messaging are not reporting the methods used in a suicide or suicide attempt and always publishing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) with any story about suicide.
I encourage any individual or media outlet who is reporting on suicide to please review these references to help prevent suicide.
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “START” to 741-741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line. If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.