Bereavement due to suicide

The press and other media involvement

Margaret did not want to talk to journalists until after her daughter’s inquest. She decided to issue a statement through her solicitor. This was also used as part of an article written by the charity INQUEST. Margaret hoped the article would help to prevent other suicides in prison.
Some people we talked to said that newspaper and radio reports had shocked them or said that reports had been insensitive and inaccurate.
Before Ann’s friend died the police put pictures up everywhere to make the public aware that she was missing. The media helped at this stage but after the inquest the newspaper and television reporters wrote sensational accounts of what had happened. Ann said that the reports might have been less distressing if she had talked to journalists, but she did not feel she could cope with it.
Kate’s ex-husband died by suicide in 2005. After Kate’s daughters died by suicide in 2006 and 2007 a journalist writing for a tabloid newspaper wrote an article, suggesting that there was a “suicide gene” in the family. Kate thought the article was disgraceful. It upset her and alarmed other parents who had lost a partner through suicide. Another reporter, invited to write an article about the girls, wrote a lovely piece.
Detailed, dramatic reports of suicide, particularly if celebrities are involved, may encourage other people to kill themselves in ‘copy-cat’ suicides. Media reports may particularly affect people with a recent history of attempted suicide. Reports may also influence the methods people use. However, sensitive reporting may help to educate the public, reduce stigma and might even change working practices in places such as prisons or hospitals.
A few people said that they thought the newspaper articles (mainly those in broadsheets) had been well written, sympathetic and well balanced. Bob and Lynda, for example, thought the newspaper article about their son Darren was neither intrusive nor hurtful. Others had found newspaper reports inoffensive because they were very short and had not mentioned names.
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Maurice and Jane had a friend who worked in the local press and he offered to deal with any reporters, which was a great help.

Some people were glad to have the media involved and wrote articles themselves about what had happened. Felicity, for example, wrote a piece about her daughter, Alice, for the Guardian. Jenny wrote an article about her husband for a national broadsheet, and she talked about David on the radio and on television.

Some people used the press to try to improve things for the local community. Lucreta, for example, was very angry that her daughter had been able to enter the block of flats from which she jumped to her death, and campaigned for the broken windows in the building to be repaired.

Steve also used the media to vent his anger over what had happened to his sister. He contacted the local radio station and was invited to give a live interview on air.

Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated October 2012.


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