A new resource for the media reporting of suicide has been adopted by New Zealand print and broadcast media agencies.
The resource is designed for quick access by busy journalists. It describes issues relating to suicide reporting, suggests areas that journalists should think carefully about, and identifies sources of information that journalists may find useful.
The media resource was developed in 2011 by a roundtable of key stakeholders, convened by Hon Peter Dunne, as minister responsible for suicide prevention. Roundtable members included representatives of the news media (including the Media Freedom Committee, Fairfax, TVNZ and Radio NZ), and mental health professionals. Officials from the Ministries of Health, Justice and Education attended roundtable meetings in an advisory and secretariat capacity.
The final version has been adopted by the Newspaper Publishers’ Association and the Media Freedom Committee.
The Coroners Amendment Act 2016
In July 2016, the Coroners Amendment Act 2016 came into force. The amended law has a bearing on media reporting of suicides. You can see more about the changes at Talking about suicide.
While the 2011 resource for media will continue to be useful, it should be read in conjunction with the recent legislative changes.
Below are the parts of the resource impacted by the Coroners Amendment Act 2016, and the relevant legislative change.
|Part of the resource||Relevant change|
|Section 75 allows for any person, including the media, who is dissatisfied with a Coroner’s ruling concerning reporting restrictions to seek a review through the High Court (page 10).||If the chief coroner has refused to grant an exemption from the restriction on the publication of details of self-inflicted deaths under section 71A, section 75 allows for any person affected by the refusal to seek a review through the High Court.|
|There is unresolved debate on the definition of the word ‘particulars’ in section 71 (page 10).||Section 71 has been amended to enhance clarity. The word ‘particulars’ has been removed.|
|Section 71 (pages 10–11).||Section 71 has been replaced. See the NZ Legislation website for the current wording.|