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Health Promot J Austr. 2019 Dec 17. doi: 10.1002/hpja.316. [Epub ahead of print]

The uptake of evidence-informed guidelines for reporting suicide into media codes of practice and policies in Australia.

Skehan J1,2,3, Paton E1,4, Tynan R1,2,3.

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Everymind, Hunter New England Local Health District, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.
School of Creative Industries, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.



Despite different models and frameworks for effective suicide prevention, a universal intervention that is consistently highlighted is the need for responsible and safe media reporting of suicide. This is based on evidence of an association between media reporting of suicide and subsequent suicidal behaviour. This study examines the extent to which media-led policies and codes of practice in Australia have integrated and aligned with evidence-informed recommendations about reporting suicide.


An online search of Australian media agency websites was used to identify codes of practice or similar guidance for news reporting. Content analysis was conducted on all identified documents, assessing alignment with 16 key recommendations from the Mindframe media guidelines for reporting on suicide.


A total of 17 documents across 12 media agencies were identified. Ten of the 12 agencies provided specific advice about the reporting of suicide, with all agencies that issue codes of practice or editorial policies including between two and 10 recommendations aligned with the Mindframe guidelines.


While the results of this study are positive, significant variation between media agencies shows that there are opportunities to enhance adoption and implementation of evidence-informed guidance for media professionals in Australia. SO WHAT?: With over 3000 people dying by suicide and over 60 000 people attempting suicide each year in Australia, the prevention of suicide remains a key public health priority requiring a multi-sector and health-in-all-policies approach. This study reveals that there is a strong platform for ongoing collaboration with the Australian media to ensure safe and sensitive coverage of suicide.


evidence-based practice; journalism; mass media; mental health; public health; social determinants of health; suicide


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