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PCC rules that local newspaper publishes excessive detail about a method of suicide

PCC rules that local newspaper publishes excessive detail about a method of suicide

The Press Complaints Commission has today ruled that an article in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald breached Clause 5 ii (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors' Code of Practice by including "excessive detail" about a method of suicide in an inquest report about the death of a man who had taken his own life.

The article contained the name of the gas the man had used, information about how it had been obtained, and the manner in which it had been inhaled. Although in its adjudication the Commission made clear that newspapers are entitled to report inquests in cases of suicide, it emphasised that they must take care to limit the level of detail, in accordance with the terms of Clause 5 of the Editors' Code.

Charlotte Dewar, Head of Complaints and Pre-publication Services commented: "The Code's requirement to avoid excessive detail exists to minimise the risk of imitative suicides. The Commission works hard to promote responsible reporting of suicide. Today's ruling is a reminder of the high standard the Commission expects of editors in this area".


Notes to editors:

1. To read the adjudication which has been published on p20 of this week's newspaper, please click here. It has been published on the newspaper's website here.

2. The Editors' Code of Practice was amended in 2006 to include the following sub-clause: "When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used". The press release announcing the change can be read here.

3. In 2009, the Editors' Code of Practice Committee issued a guidance note to the industry on the reporting of suicide. This can be accessed here (see page 41).

4. The PCC works closely with bereavement support charities, including those specialising in suicide. For an independent perspective on this work, please click here.

5. For more information about the adjudication, please contact Jonathan Collett on 020 7438 1246 or 07740 896805, or by email:


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