Online Media

The Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide also apply to online content including citizen-generated media coverage, social media sites, blogs and online content from traditional media organization’s websites. In fact, following the recommendations for online content is just as important since online articles, blogs, photos and videos can be instantly shared with millions of people around the world.  And we know from research that extensive media coverage of a suicide increases risk for contagion.

Here are some additional tips for online media coverage:

Include hyperlinks to resources, such as suicide warnings and risk factors, or to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to help inform readers and reduce risk of contagion.

 Think about reporting on suicide as a health issue, not just in response to a recent death.  For example you can report about:

  • Effective suicide prevention programs
  • New research on suicide prevention or mental illness
  • Advocates working to reduce suicide
  • Individual stories of people who have overcome suicidal ideations
  • Stories on families bereaved by suicide loss who are helping others cope or working to prevent suicide in their community
  • New treatments for depression or other mental illnesses that can lead to suicide
  • Steps local/federal government agencies are taking to prevent suicide

Remember that most online stories also allow for public commentary. Websites and bloggers should develop policies and procedures for safe message board comments and monitor for hurtful messages or comments from posters who may be in crisis. It might be helpful for webmasters, bloggers or messageboard moderators to post the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline information in the first comment box in any story about suicide.

Traditional media journalists who also blog either for their news organization or as an individual, should follow the media recommendations and be consistent. Try not to be sensational in your online coverage just because there is more space or less oversight.