The Links between Depression, Suicide, and Euthanasia – and the responsibilities of broadcasters. Government replies in Parliament.

Sep 16, 2020 | Uncategorized

Baroness Barran, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7956):

Question from Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench Peer):

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with media regulators, including Ofcom and IPSO, on the reporting of suicide; what assessment they have made of the impact of reporting relating to assisted suicide; and what plans they have to review their guidance to ensure that public broadcasters include details of the Samaritans or other support services when reporting on suicide and assisted suicide stories. (HL7956)

Tabled on: 09 September 2020

Answer:
Baroness Barran:

Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating and enduring impact on families and communities. The Government is taking action in this area, including launching the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, which sets out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the NHS.

The Government does not review editorial content, as broadcast regulation is a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom has the power to set rules in its Broadcasting Code for broadcasters to meet in order to ensure UK audiences are adequately protected from harmful content. Ofcom’s Guidelines, which advise broadcasters on meeting the rules, includes advice on providing specific helplines where a programme has dealt with a particularly sensitive issue.

The government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not, therefore, seek to intervene in the decisions or activities of newspapers or regulators, including IPSO. IPSO’s Editors’ Code of Practice sets out the rules that newspapers and magazines regulated by IPSO have agreed to follow, including on reporting suicide.

In response to COVID-19, the Government announced £9.2 million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM. Samaritans published updated media guidelines resources at the beginning of August and created a new online hub of resources, covering additional topics to help journalists and programme makers further understand the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour and offering practical tips on covering these topics.

Date and time of answer: 16 Sep 2020 at 16:48.

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Baroness Barran, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7957):

 

Question from Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench Peer):

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mandate the inclusion of details of mental health charities, NHS support and groups such as the Samaritans to be published whenever newspapers or broadcasters report (1) on suicide, (2) on assisted suicide, and (3) on palliative care. (HL7957)

Tabled on: 09 September 2020

Answer:
Baroness Barran:

Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating and enduring impact on families and communities. The Government is taking action in this area, including launching the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, which sets out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the NHS. In response to COVID-19, the Government announced £9.2million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM

The editorial and operational decisions of broadcasters are independent from the Government. Ofcom, the UK’s independent broadcast regulator, sets rules in its Broadcasting Code for licensed broadcasters to meet to ensure UK audiences are adequately protected from harmful content. Ofcom advises in its Guidelines that where a programme has dealt with a particularly sensitive issue, broadcasters may wish to provide a helpline specific to that issue.

The Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy sets out the importance of responsible media reporting of suicide. The Government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not, therefore, seek to intervene in the decisions or activities of newspapers or regulators. Newspapers either self-regulate or are regulated by independent regulators; which include IPSO and IMPRESS. These regulators issue codes of conduct which set out the rules that newspapers and magazines have agreed to follow, including on reporting suicide.

IPSO has also produced guidance for journalists on reporting suicide, including signposting to sources of support by providing the contact details for The Samaritans, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, or other relevant organisations, in any articles reporting on a suicide.

Date and time of answer: 16 Sep 2020 at 16:47.

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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