Communicating about suicide

When communicating about suicide it's important to remember that suicide is a complex issue and is often not preceded by a single event or condition.

Suicide arises from an interaction between many vulnerabilities and risk factors in a person’s life. However, suicide may also be influenced by social and economic circumstances and differences between cultures and individuals’ experiences within society.

Accurate information about suicide is important in order to identify those who may need more support and to debunk common myths about suicide.

When communicating about suicide, be mindful of:

  • using safe, inclusive language
  • presenting confirmed information
  • removing method and location details
  • including help-seeking pathways.

Australian media and communications professionals have an important role to play in influencing social attitudes and perceptions of suicide.

Suicide reports, when made, are usually presented with care to minimise the pain for relatives and friends.

Most Australian media outlets try to ensure that suicide is not presented as a way to solve personal problems or is portrayed in a way that normalises the outcome.

Mindframe works to support media and communications professionals as an important source of information to help ensure that the quality of reporting and portrayal of suicide is safe and accurate.

There is still progress to be made in the media landscape with international syndication posing a new challenge to reporting and portrayal of suicide in the media.

The mental health and suicide prevention sector serve as an important source of information on suicide to the Australian public.

There are safe ways to communicate about suicide, ensuring any risks are managed while increasing community awareness and understanding of suicide and its contributing factors.

As part of capacity building for the sector and to encourage help-seeking behaviour, Mindframe has national guidelines for the discussion, communication and publication of content, which references suicide.

Read the Mindframe guidelines.

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