The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is aware that a man appears to have set himself on fire this afternoon on the grounds of Parliament in what may have been a suicide attempt, and urges New Zealand media to exercise caution and consideration when covering this event.
The MHF is extremely concerned and disappointed that some outlets have chosen to publish video footage of the incident and requests that this footage be urgently removed.
“It is never in the public interest to publish graphic footage or photographs of a distressed individual deliberately self-harming or making a suicide attempt,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.
“This footage will put vulnerable people at risk and cause distress to almost anyone who views it.”
Publishing details about methods of self-harm, suicide or suicide attempts can put vulnerable people at risk of suicide. This story is likely to get considerable media coverage, heightening the risk for individuals who may be vulnerable and feel unheard and unseen. Prominent, repetitive coverage increases the likelihood that vulnerable people will be affected.
As this story unfolds, the MHF strongly urges media to use their best judgement when deciding what to publish. Speculation about and simplification of the causes for this incident should be avoided where possible.
“We understand that this incident was witnessed by members of the public and the media,” Mr Robinson says. “We know the story will develop and we are not suggesting that media do not cover it. However, it is critically important that the media takes the safety of vulnerable people into consideration when covering this story.
“We are repeatedly told that members of the media want to play their part in suicide prevention. Today is a good opportunity to put intent into action and do everything to minimise the risk that coverage of this story creates.”
The MHF urges reporters and editors to be sensitive and mindful of the individual and their loved ones when reporting on this story.
Please include prominent help-seeking information and links to suicide prevention resources in any coverage of this story.
Those who witnessed this incident – including members of the media at the scene – need and deserve support and care.
For more information about suicide prevention
For more information on suicide reporting
Note to journalists:
Please ensure all coverage of these statistics includes information about suicide prevention and reference to accurate and appropriate helplines. The Mental Health Foundation’s list of recommended helplines is below. All services are available 24/7.
Need to talk? – 1737 – free call or text 1737 to talk to a train counsellor, anytime.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE)
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Youthline - 0800 376 633. Free text 234 or email email@example.com
Healthline - 0800 611 116
For more information about support and services available to you, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service on 09 623 4812 during office hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org