Reporting on the death of Robin Williams

Posted by See Me, 15 August 2014

We were extremely concerned about the level of detail in some of the stories covering the sad death of Robin Williams.

NUJ guidelines, as well as guidelines on reporting suicide by the Samaritans, were circulated around the media advising not to reveal the methods of suicide.

Despite this many of the graphic details of Mr Williams’ death were put on the front pages of a number of newspapers. As a result we have written directly to key media to express our concerns.

Evidence shows that detailed reporting of methods can risk acting as a trigger for people and lead to copycat behaviour. The risk of copycat behaviour is also increased when the person involved is a celebrity.

As a national programme working to put an end to mental health stigma and discrimination we know reports such as this can cause distress to those who have attempted suicide and those who support them.

Aside from these issues we are pleased to see positive coverage given to mental health in the papers, which can encourage people to speak openly, breaking down the stigma that still exists.

We are keen to work with the media to offer guidance around these issues to ensure we can all help break down the stigma that exists around mental health and we welcome your ongoing views on this issue.

Media contact

Nick Jedrzejewski, Media and Communications Officer
Email: nick.jedrzejewski@seemescotland.org
Tel: 0141 530 1049 / 07710 387 517