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Government accepts suicide reporting recommendations

Government accepts Law Commission’s suicide reporting recommendations

Courts Minister Chester Borrows and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced today that the Government has agreed to the recommendations in the Law Commission’s recent report on suicide reporting.

The Government asked the Commission to review the issue, including the role of social media in discussing suicide.

The Law Commission’s report, released in April, recommended a number of changes to clarify and improve the law governing suicide reporting. Its proposals included revised reporting restrictions focused on the details most likely to cause harm.

For example, the proposed changes would restrict reporting the method of a suicide, as well as where it occurred if the location suggested the method - unless the Chief Coroner granted an exemption. A death could be described as “suspected suicide” if the facts support that description.

“Suicide is a serious concern for New Zealand, and how we talk about it can have both risks and benefits,” Mr Borrows says.

“Being more open about this topic can help shed light on it, but that must be balanced against appropriate restrictions that reduce the risk of copycat behaviour.”

Mr Dunne welcomed the proposed legislative changes.
“Adopting these recommendations will contribute towards achieving our goal of low-risk suicide reporting,” Mr Dunne says.

“The proposals are based on sound evidence and would make the law clearer and easier to follow. These changes, alongside the activity already underway as part of the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2013–2016, will help everyone move towards safe, responsible discussions around suicide.”

Mr Borrows plans to introduce a Coroners Amendment Bill in the coming months, which will implement changes identified in the Government’s recent review of the Coroners Act 2006. As well as the suicide reporting amendments, the Bill will include previously announced proposals and a number of other minor changes recently considered by Cabinet.


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