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World Suicide Prevention Day role for the media

10 September 2008

World Suicide Prevention Day role for the media

Everyone can play a part in suicide prevention - including the media, Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton said today.

"Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and this year's theme 'Think globally. Plan nationally. Act Locally', is a reminder that we all need to work together to prevent suicide".

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day in New Zealand, Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ) is holding seminars in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson over the next three days with a focus on the role of the media in suicide prevention.

Jim Anderton said there was evidence that some types of reporting and portrayal of suicide can increase the risk of further suicides.

The seminars will see media, government agencies, community groups and health professionals coming together to discuss their contribution to suicide prevention and to promote safe reporting and portrayal of suicide by the media.

"Although the contribution of the media to the rate of suicide may be small compared to other factors, it is relatively easy to rectify," he said.

"It is essential that we take all neccesary steps to prevent suicide wherever possible."

Australian expert Associate Professor Jane Pirkis is the keynote speaker at the seminar series.

Jim Anderton said we were incredibly fortunate to have a world renowned expert sharing her knowledge and experiences with us. Associate Professor Pirkis, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, has published research on suicide and the media and led a project examining reporting of suicide and mental illness by Australian media.

"Over the years, I have been pleased to see the media taking an increasingly responsible and thoughtful approach to this issue. This has been reflected in the recent development by some media of their own protocols for reporting suicide. I congratulate them for this approach.

"Suicide is a complex issue and there are often many factors leading up to the final act of suicide. There are also many opportunities to intervene. That is why a wide range of measures need to be put in place to prevent suicide, including activities by government agencies, community groups, mental health professionals, and also by journalists, editors and film makers."

Many of these activities are outlined in the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan, which was released by Mr Anderton earlier this year.

Further information

For information about the seminars, and about suicide prevention, contact SPINZ (Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand) (www.spinz.org.nz).

Some types of reporting and portrayal of suicide can increase the risk of further suicides. For more information, see the Ministry of Health resource "Suicide and the Media" (www.moh.govt.nz/suicideprevention).

ENDS

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