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Media Guidelines for Reporting on Suicide

Suggested guidelines for media reporting and social media commentary on suicide.

Based on the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and Centre for Disease Control Guidelines for Media Reporting Suicide published in the Canadian Psychiatric Association Policy Paper approved by the CPA Board of Directors in 2008 and updated in 2017.


Appropriate language (e.g., "he died by suicide" or "her suicide death")

Reporting that reduces stigma about mental disorders/ seeking mental healthcare, and that challenges common myths about suicide refer to research linking mental disorders with suicide

  • highlight that mental disorders are treatable and therefore that suicide is preventable
  • highlight the tragedy of suicide (i.e., describe it in terms of a lost opportunity for someone suffering to have received help)
  • seek advice from suicide prevention experts and consider including quotes on causes and treatments

Alternatives to suicide (i.e., treatment)

  • include community resource information, such as websites or hotlines, for those with suicidal thoughts 
  • where possible, list or link to a list of options including reaching out to a trusted family or community member, speaking to a physician or health care provider, seeking counselling/talk therapy, calling a hotline/911, or going to a nearby emergency department
  • where possible, cite examples of a positive outcome of a suicidal crisis (i.e., calling a suicide hotline)
  • embed emergency resource links/banners (for online content)
Information for relatives and friends, such as:
  • warning signs of suicidal behaviour
  • how to approach, support and protect a suicidal person


Prominent coverage, including:

  • front page/lead story coverage
  • prominent photos of the deceased, loved ones, or people engaged in suicidal behaviour

Graphic or sensational depictions

Excessive detail, including:

  • details or photos of the method and/or location; particularly avoid reporting novel or uncommon methods
  • glorifying or glamourizing either the person or the act of suicide in a way that might lead others to identify with them
  • the content of suicide notes
  • repetitive or excessive coverage

Inappropriate use of language, including: 

  • the word "suicide" in the headline
  • “commit” or “committed” suicide "successful/unsuccessful" or "failed" attempts

Simplistic or superficial reasons for the suicide (i.e., suicide as arising from a single cause or event, such as blaming social media for suicide)

Portraying suicide as achieving results and solving problems

  • do not describe suicidal behaviour as quick, easy, painless, certain to result in death, or relieving suffering/ leading to peace ("in a better place")
SOURCE: Media Guidelines for Reporting on Suicide ( )
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