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Complainant Name:
Press Complaints Commission

Clauses Noted: 5

Publication: The Sun


The Press Complaints Commission has investigated whether an article published in The Sun on 20th November 2008 headlined Suicide by chainsaw contained excessive detail about the method of suicide used in breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Code.

The Commission found a breach of the Code.

The article reported the suicide of a man, who had taken his own life using a chainsaw. It referred to the existence of the chainsaw, how it had been positioned and how it had been activated.

The newspaper considered that the article contained a brief and accurate report on what happened and did not dwell on any detail.



Clause 5 (ii) was introduced specifically to prohibit the inclusion of detail that would act, in effect, as a blueprint for the method of a suicide. It is crucial that newspapers abide by its terms, in order to minimise the risk of copycat suicides. This means that, particularly in inquest reports (many of which will be provided by external agencies), care needs to be taken in the editing process to remove excessive detail.

Care had been taken to remove much of the graphic detail. However, while this was a difficult judgement call, the Commission felt on balance that the article still included slightly too much detail to comply with the Code.

78 Adjudication issued 02/01/2009

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