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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK
Suicide reporting rules revised
Woman in silhouette
The Samaritans said it was a "great step forward"
Journalists are to be issued with new rules governing reporting of suicides, in an attempt to prevent "copycat" deaths prompted by publicity.

The Press Complaints Commission has changed its code of practice to warn against printing "excessive" detail about the method used for a suicide.

The commission's regulations already demanded cases were reported with sympathy and discretion.

The latest move came after consultation with the charity Samaritans.

The editors' code of practice committee made the change, to be put into effect in August, after considering international evidence of the copycat phenomenon.

Committee chairman Les Hinton, executive chairman of News International, said it had received "convincing evidence" that media reporting could prompt copycat cases.

'Less sensationalism'

Mr Hinton said excessive detail would be avoided "unless it is in the wider public interest to give the information".

It should mean we'll see more informative reporting of suicide as an issue
David King

"For example, while it might be perfectly proper to report that the suicide was caused by an overdose of paracetamol, it would probably be excessive to state the number of tablets used."

He said many editors already followed this kind of rule.

The new clause has been welcomed by Samaritans - a charity that provides support to people in emotional distress, including those contemplating suicide.

Samaritans chief executive David King described the move as a "great step forward".

"It should mean we'll see more informative reporting of suicide as an issue, and far less about methods and the sensational aspects."

Mr King said sensationalised reporting could be "genuinely harmful".


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