To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mandate the inclusion of details of mental health charities, NHS support and groups such as the Samaritans to be published whenever newspapers or broadcasters report (1) on suicide, (2) on assisted suicide, and (3) on palliative care.
Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating and enduring impact on families and communities. The Government is taking action in this area, including launching the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, which sets out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the NHS. In response to COVID-19, the Government announced £9.2million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM
The editorial and operational decisions of broadcasters are independent from the Government. Ofcom, the UK’s independent broadcast regulator, sets rules in its Broadcasting Code for licensed broadcasters to meet to ensure UK audiences are adequately protected from harmful content. Ofcom advises in its Guidelines that where a programme has dealt with a particularly sensitive issue, broadcasters may wish to provide a helpline specific to that issue.
The Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy sets out the importance of responsible media reporting of suicide. The Government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not, therefore, seek to intervene in the decisions or activities of newspapers or regulators. Newspapers either self-regulate or are regulated by independent regulators; which include IPSO and IMPRESS. These regulators issue codes of conduct which set out the rules that newspapers and magazines have agreed to follow, including on reporting suicide.
IPSO has also produced guidance for journalists on reporting suicide, including signposting to sources of support by providing the contact details for The Samaritans, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, or other relevant organisations, in any articles reporting on a suicide.