Saturday, 18 June 2011


We spent a very interesting afternoon yesterday with our curate. I was going to say he clearly keeps ungodly hours as he sent me a message when I'm tucked up and snoozing peacefully, but then I remembered that he's in church each morning to say Morning Prayer at 7.30. So I suspect it's me who keeps an ungodly timetable, and he's got the godly schedule! 
Anyway, he pointed me to the World Health Organisations Guidelines for Media Professionals Guidelines for Media Professionals on the portrayal and reporting of suicide, which ends: "There is an obligation on media professionals to exercise caution in reporting suicide, and to balance imperatives like the public’s ‘right to know’ against the risk of causing harm."
Its bullet point summary is:
Take the opportunity to educate the public about suicide 
Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems
Avoid prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide
Avoid explicit description of the method used in a completed or attempted suicide
Avoid providing detailed information about the site of a completed or attempted suicide
Word headlines carefully 
Exercise caution in using photographs or video footage 
Take particular care in reporting celebrity suicides 
Show due consideration for people bereaved by suicide 
Provide information about where to seek help
Recognize that media professionals themselves may be affected by stories about suicide.
The report warns against the copycat danger of media reporting of suicide, which is well researched and accepted, especially with high profile stories. The WHO resource is well worth reading. I've no doubt that the BBC were aware of it; I'm sure Dignity in Dying (the old Voluntary Euthanasia Society) knows it very well. No doubt it's one reason they assiduously avoid the term "assisted suicide". But if Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die on Monday made one thing clear, it was that we were watching a suicide, not the double-effect of pain relief administered by a doctor for a terminally ill patient near death.
On a brighter note, today we've heard that our great friends in Australia have had their first baby, a boy. Mum is disabled, but full of the joy of life. Congratulations! Happy Birthday, Jacob!

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