Govt agrees to suicide reporting changes

May 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government will move to open up aspects of reporting, in an effort to bring numbers of self-inflicted deaths down.

The bill comes after the Law Commission recommended changes to the way suicides were reported in the media.

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

Courts Minister Chester Borrows and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced today that the Government had agreed to all the recommendations in the Law Commission’s report.

Among those recommendations was that the media could report a suicide or a suspected suicide had occurred, but talking about the method or the place in which it occurred, if they suggested a certain method, were still off limits.

As I previously blogged, I think these changes are sensible, and am glad the Government has agreed to them.

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10 Responses to “Govt agrees to suicide reporting changes”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    As I previously blogged, I think these changes are sensible, and am glad the Government has agreed to them.

    The penalty for mourning the self-inflicted death of a friend by posting about their death on their Facebook wall wasn’t high enough for you?

    Not saying there aren’t improvements in the Law Commission’s recommendations (it’s a good report, overall). And not saying Facebook mourning is my way of reacting to loss, but it is offensive that the Law Commission and Government think the law should prescribe how people grieve.

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  2. Nostalgia-NZ (5,221 comments) says:

    Something a little off the mark. Facebook a place to mourn and also to induce others to suicide?

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  3. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Totally agree with Graeme Edgeler.

    The victorians really knew how to grieve and made an art form of it, however since then society has tended to shun overt displays of grief, and in many ways made any discussions on death, taboo. The medicalisation of death, has seen grief also become medicalised. It’s okay to grieve for a certain short period, but anything other than that, is frequently diagnosed as a negative psychological episode, requiring medication. Seemingly overt and public displays of grief embrasses us, so we regard the griever as ‘weird’ or worse, sick. Grief is one of our most natural behaviours, even animals grieve.

    People grieving in anything but the socially approved (and now it appears to be by the standards prescribed by government) are encouraged to seek ‘closure’. WTF is ‘closure’? Does one suddenly get to the point where they can close the door and forget the person they’ve lost? Do people ever close the door on grief?

    IMO people continue to grieve for those they have loved and lost throughout their entire life, but how they grieve changes. To set a prescribed and socially acceptable means of grieving is damaging and encourages ‘difference’ if a person doesn’t do exactly what is expected. Each individual must be free to find their own pathway through the process until they can keep their memories of their loved one in a manner that fits with the other roles in their lives. Sometimes that takes a week, sometimes years. People need to be free to do whatever it takes to find a place to live with their memories.

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  4. Rufus (667 comments) says:

    “The Government will move to open up aspects of suicide reporting, in an effort to bring numbers of self-inflicted deaths down”

    I happened to listen to Duncan Garner discuss this with Chester on the radio the other night. Duncan agonisingly asking Chester – “why o why do we have such a high rate of suicide…won’t someone think of the children” or something like that. Chester didn’t give a conclusive answer (like anyone could), but suggested we, as a society, don’t value the sanctity of life like generations past. Duncan didn’t understand what he meant by this (or pretended not to to see what foolishness he could get a minister to say on radio…).

    So on the one hand there’s more and more voices clamoring for the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide. On the other hand we’re trying to reduce the number of suicides.

    Which will it be? Is suicide a bad thing or not?

    The pro-euthanasia camp argues that it’s a person’s own damn right to go out in flames whenever they want, as long as they hurt noone else in the process, and the government should butt out.

    But then at the same time they agonise over NZ’s comparatively high suicide statistics, as if they’re a bad thing.

    How can giving someone the right to help someone else commit suicide a good thing, but suicide itself a bad thing?

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  5. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    A tabloid liferaft thrown to print media drowning in obsolescent technology.

    Claims that more detailed reporting of suicides will reduce the number is unbelievable and unprovable.

    What the fuck do the hacks expect to be suddenly revealed? That if you commit suicide you die?

    On one hand NZ establishes some tight privacy laws, on the other, ahead of an election, politicians chisel away at privacy rights of families of those who commit suicide, and these can be exceedingly heart wrenching losses for parents, children, siblings and friends.

    How surprising that Dunne, who seems to have a sympathetic eye for journos, is linked with this move.

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  6. Harriet (4,979 comments) says:

    “………People grieving in anything but the socially approved (and now it appears to be by the standards prescribed by government) are encouraged to seek ‘closure’. WTF is ‘closure’? Does one suddenly get to the point where they can close the door and forget the person they’ve lost? Do people ever close the door on grief?…….”

    Lindy Chamberlain said the same thing a couple of months ago “You never forget them[Azaria] you think of them nearly every day, there is no such thing as closure, I don’t want to forget them, I don’t want closure.”

    Lindy said that other people who have lost children say the same thing to her “I don’t want to forget them, I don’t want closure” — Lindy was talking of a recent example of being stopped by a grieving mother who didn’t want ‘closure’ and asked Lindy if closure actually happened as people had kept telling her ‘she would have closure’.

    Lindy was being interviewed for her recent book release ‘Forgiveness’.

    Which brings up what Rufus has said – “…….The pro-euthanasia camp argues that it’s a person’s own damn right to go out in flames whenever they want, as long as they hurt noone else in the process, and the government should butt out……”

    Other people are hurt by death/suicide – for the remainder of nearly each and every day of their lives – just as Lindy said.

    Which reminds me of what a detective once said to me “Suicide is an act of selfishness, as you leave to get away from your problems, but in doing so you leave others with a bigger problem.”

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  7. Nukuleka (334 comments) says:

    Rufus is quite correct. On the one hand our society wrings its hands about the number of young people, particularly young males, committing suicide- and many of the same folk are in the forefront of calls to legalise assisted suicide. This is why we must resist the honeyed words of people like Maryann Street and her bill to legalise euthanasia. Our MPS need to be promoting pro-life policies, aiming to reduce the number of suicides in all its manifestations.

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  8. wikiriwhis business (4,019 comments) says:

    Govt’s are horrified of suicide stats and try to hide them at every opportunity.

    Most deaths are caused by govt’s.

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  9. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Isn’t there a contradiction in the wish to give more details about suicides with another trend in the MSM? This is the move not to mention the word “death”. Celebrities now “pass on” or simply “pass” instead of dying.

    What is going on?

    What do journo’s want to say about a suicide? That John Doe passed himself?

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  10. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    The use of “pass” and “passing” also opens print media to the possibility of a bad typo at a sensitive time.

    Think of the famous, and probably apocryphal typo in a London newspaper more than a century ago:

    Crowds cheered as Queen Victoria pissed over Westminster Bridge.

    The bridge's name varies with the source. Another calls it Clifton Suspension Bridge, and one even Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was built long after VIctoria’s death ended any temptation for royal bridge urinations.

    However, a modern journo magically transported back in time might have written of Victoria’s death: Her Majesty pissed away last night.

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