Nicola Peckett - Head of Communications, Samaritans
The support that the PCC provides Samaritans is hugely helpful in our work to ensure responsible reporting of suicide.
It has long been known that publishing excessive detail about the method of suicide can encourage others to emulate the suicide in what is known as a copycat death. Samaritans' aim is to work with the media to prevent coverage which could be harmful to vulnerable individuals.
Samaritans reviews more than 3000 articles about suicide each year, and we understand that there is a fi ne line between working constructively with the media and being seen as trying to restrict press freedom.
Our relationship with the PCC means that we can pick up the phone to them on an informal basis and seek guidance on the best way to work with the press. PCC staff will always answer honestly, so we can avoid taking forward unnecessary complaints.
We value the experience the PCC has in dealing with complaints against newspapers, because it gives us access to their excellent judgement and sound advice.
The work done by the PCC in the area of suicide reporting has been well-documented over recent years and we are proud of the improvements there have been in the way that newspapers and magazines cover such tragedies. Our close work with Samaritans is a very good example of the way in which the PCC carries out its wider standards role, for only a small portion of our relationship is about dealing with concrete complaints. The more significant part is about facilitating a constructive dialogue between an expert organisation (Samaritans) and key editorialexecutives.
There is no doubt that the press has taken on board the important message about the potential impact on vulnerable people of excessively detailed reporting about suicide. Editors regularly contact the PCC for advice on this topic and have displayed an eagerness to discuss the subject at seminars.
‒ Press Complaints Commission