The Mental Health Foundation welcomes the Law Commission’s review of suicide reporting. The current laws governing suicide reporting are ineffective, and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) believes that we need new reporting standards to ensure that safe and effective reporting of suicide is clearly understood and uniformly applied in New Zealand.
“We need an understanding of good practice in reporting suicide that everyone can agree on,” says MHF Chief Executive Judi Clements. “If adopted, the law will be stronger because it will be clearer and more easily enforced.
“The current law is ineffective because it is widely misunderstood, and many people don’t understand why there is a need for government to regulate suicide reporting.
“The report makes it clear that the purpose of these laws and standards will be to manage a very real public health risk, not to maintain a ‘cloak of silence’ about suicide.”
The report recommends that the Government implement a programme that supports the media and the public to discuss suicide in safe ways. This aligns closely with the work the MHF already undertakes to work with media around safe and responsible suicide reporting, and we welcome the Law Commission’s call for more active and collaborative work in this area.
“The media has an important role to play in shaping social attitudes about suicide and mental distress,” says Ms Clements. “Editorial decisions would benefit from taking into account the views of those who work with vulnerable populations and understand the copycat effect that is associated with suicide reporting.”
An ongoing and active programme to disseminate, promote, and support the implementation of the standards will be critical in making this work.
The MHF commends the Law Commission for producing a balanced and informative piece of work, and look forward to the Government’s response.
The MHF’s communications team remains available to work with media about suicide reporting, and encourages journalists to get in touch with us for support, information, and advice.
For further information or comment, contact:
Senior Communications Officer
PH: 09 623 4810 x 811
Mobile: 021 740 454