28 Aug 2011

Media reporting of suicide debated

11:11 am on 28 August 2011

A review of the voluntary guidelines on media reporting of suicide is continuing, although opinion remains divided.

Mental health specialists, government agency representatives and media professionals are part of a panel considering guidance developed by the Ministry of Health.

Guidelines developed by the Ministry of Health say newspapers should not have stories about suicide on their front page nor use the word suicide in headlines, to avoid increasing the risk of copycat behaviour.

Newspaper Publishers Association chief executive Tim Pankhurst says there is by no means unanimity among the review panel members.

He's calling for more disclosure, more transparency and revisions to sections of the Coroners Act which cover reporting on suicide.

Former Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton says the rules set out in the act Act on what can be made public about an individual suicide work well.

Mr Anderton he says the rules are not a prohibition on talking, or on proposing better solutions to the issue of mental health problems and suicide.

"So this false trail is put up by people who want removal of restrictions so that they can have the licence virtually to kill, in my view."