Page last updated at 23:15 GMT, Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Parents attack suicides coverage

Nathaniel Pritchard
Nathaniel's parents said reports of his death made it unbearable

Media coverage of a series of suspected suicides around Bridgend could trigger more deaths, the parents of a boy who apparently killed himself have said.

Vincent and Sharon Pritchard, whose son Nathaniel, 15, died in hospital on Friday, said reports "glamorised" ways of taking one's life to young people.

Local MP Madeleine Moon said the media were "now part of the problem".

Since January 2007, 17 young people have apparently killed themselves around Bridgend, the latest on Tuesday.

The body of 16-year-old Jenna Parry was found on common land in the village of Cefn Cribwr, five miles from Bridgend town.


Mr and Mrs Pritchard addressed a press conference at South Wales Police headquarters on Tuesday which dealt with the results of a review by police into suspected suicides by young people in the area.

Mrs Pritchard said: "We have lost our son and the media reporting of this has made it more unbearable.

Ass Chief Cons David Morris holds up a newspaper during the briefing
What is the link since Natasha Randall's death? It is you, the media
Asst Chief Constable David Morris

"We feel the media coverage could trigger other people who are already feeling low to take their own lives.

"We feel that Nathaniel might have thought it was a way of getting attention without fully thinking through the consequences."

Asst Chief Constable David Morris said the review had covered the deaths of 17 young people including Natasha Randall, 17, in January, whose death pushed the issue of suicides in the Bridgend area into the media spotlight.

Four more young people have died since.

Holding examples of stories from the tabloid press, he urged reporters to think about how they may be influencing young people.

Sharon and Vincent Pritchard
The Pritchards at the press conference

"What is the link since Natasha Randall's death? It is you, the media," he said.

While stressing a "constellation of factors" appeared to have prompted the youngsters to take their lives individually, including relationship break-ups to problems with family and friends, he said they were vulnerable to influences.

"Taking one's own life may be becoming an acceptable option to young people for issues that they are facing.

"We are speaking to young people in Bridgend and what we are getting from them is that the media is starting to contribute to their thoughts in terms of how they feel, pressures they are under and Bridgend becoming stigmatised through the media," he said.

Ms Moon, who has been involved with working on suicide prevention strategies since last summer, told the press conference: "You come asking what was the problem in Bridgend - you are now part of the problem."

However, a letter from Health Minister Edwina Hart said all assembly members noted Welsh media outlets had worked with the assembly government and local services "in taking a responsible approach" to the coverage.

Ms Hart added she hoped the national media would follow their lead.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) chairman Sir Christopher Meyer said: "We are ourselves monitoring the situation.

"But we would urge anyone with examples of articles which in their view are either insensitive or which provide such excessive detail to contact us immediately."

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Police spokesman's statement on the Bridgend deaths


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