High-profile cases prompt further discussion of how to best report on suicide



In response to the coverage of Amanda Todd’s suicide and the more recent alleged suicide pact, the Vancouver School Board is calling for media organizations to adhere to guidelines when they report on suicides as set out by the Canadian Psychiatric Association. The CPA says that certain types of suicide coverage can encourage copycats, as Steve Ladurantaye reported last year, though not everyone agrees with that. André Picard told Liam Casey in his 2010 award-winning RRJ feature that there are problems inherent in the CPA guidelines, and after the Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition issued its own guide to reporting on suicide earlier this year, Mel Coulson said being told how to ‘spin’ the message doesn’t sit right with her. In a 2011 column, Stephen Ward said that “covering tragedies is not an act of exploitation, ” and in a subsequent column, said that while journalists can adopt some guidelines, they should not follow them without question, as journalists play a different social role from that of health professionals.  Today’s segment of CBC's The Current looked at how journalists can cover suicide and what impact guidelines will have in an environment where so much discussion takes place on social media.