Media Guidelines

The words we use in reporting on suicide are imperative. Suicide is not a topic to be avoided but it should be handled thoughtfully and respectfully. 

Below are some recommendations to follow when reporting or writing about suicide.

How To Talk or Write About Suicide

Reporting on suicide is different from crime reporting. The main message of any article, video or TV show about suicide should encourage people to get help. It is important to advise them where to look for support by including local and national hotline numbers or crisis resources. It is helpful to include a warning signs of suicide sidebar, or an introduction that contains a trigger warning. 

Inform, Don't Sensationalize

  • Don’t include the word suicide in the headline. 
  • Don’t use images of the location or method of death, grieving loved ones, memorials or funerals.  Instead, use school, work or family photos.
  • Exclude if there was a note from the deceased. Don't detail what the note contained or refer to it as a “suicide note.”
  • Treat social media with caution and refrain from linking or mentioning websites that promote or glamourize suicide. Careful consideration should be given around leaving comment sections open and promoting stories through push notifications.

Choose Your Words Carefully

  • Don't use the term “committed suicide.” Instead, use “died by suicide" or a "fatal suicide attempt." 
  • Use words like "increased rates" or "higher rates" rather than the phrase "suicide epidemic."  
  • Don't refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt.” 
  • Don't describe a suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.” 

The following resources provide more detailed information.

Reporting Suicide & Mental Ill-Health: A Mindframe Resource for Media Professionals, 2020