Suicide reporting

The Herald reports:

An internet safety group has backed the Prime Minister’s view that the public reporting of suicide is now virtually beyond control, because young people routinely discuss cases on websites.

John Key said yesterday that Parliament could “explore” the rules on suicide reporting because they were “somewhat defunct these days”.

“The reality is that, particularly with youth suicide, very quickly social networking sites like Facebook and blog sites report that. There’s huge engagement with young people around that information and so I don’t think blocking the media from reporting is achieving an awful lot.”

He said it would make sense to review the rules, but it was important to tread carefully because of the risk of copycat suicides.

The director of NetSafe, Martin Cocker, said Mr Key’s assessment was “bang on”.

I think we underestimate the capacity of kids to cope with information. The Internet has opened up the world to kids, and most of them cope fine with it.

On Twitter the other day I saw someone tweet how they had asked their two year old what she was doing on the computer, and her response was “checking facebook”!.

Mr Key was responding to chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean’s suggestion that reporting restrictions be eased.

He wants to encourage more openness, public debate and responsible media coverage of suicide, in the hope that this might reduce the suicide rate.

Which it hasn’t greatly.

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