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World Suicide Prevention Day: Safer Media Reporting

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

1 SEP 2008 - A focus on safer reporting and portrayal of suicide in the media will be highlighted on World Suicide Prevention Day this year, says Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ).

SPINZ is organising a series of seminars in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson on September 10-12 entitled "The Role of Media in Suicide Prevention". A broad range of stakeholders have been invited, including editors and journalists, public relations professionals, healthcare workers and researchers. "Suicide is a complex issue, and its prevention requires a range of initiatives across different sectors, including the media," says Merryn Statham, Director of SPINZ. "These seminars are designed to foster discussion between the media and people with expertise in suicide prevention, which is critical to enhancing the safe reporting and portrayal of suicide."

The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day this year is: "Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally". The format of the SPINZ seminars presents all three perspectives.

"Research internationally has shown that some types of media reporting and portrayal of suicide can increase suicide risk," Statham says. "We also know that enhancement of safe reporting and portrayal of suicide by the media can make an important contribution to suicide prevention."

A global perspective will be provided by keynote speaker Jane Pirkis, Associate Professor in the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne. Pirkis' work on the internationally-recognised Media Monitoring Project examined the extent, nature and quality of media reporting of suicide and mental illness in Australia for a full year.

Local speakers will include Jim Tucker, former editor of the Auckland Star and current Head of Journalism at Whitireia Journalism School; Paul Thompson, Group Executive Editor at Fairfax; and Keri Welham, Senior Writer for the Dominion Post.

Other perspectives will include presentations from Lifeline, local DHBs, and researchers on New Zealand-based media research projects and clinical case studies of people at risk of suicide.

"SPINZ acknowledges that there has been a positive shift in the way many journalists have approached this issue over the last few years," Statham concludes. "We're focussed on providing an environment in our seminars where dialogue between media professionals and experts in suicide prevention can take place."

Registrations for the SPINZ Seminar Series are open until September 8. Limited spaces are available. Registration is online at www.spinz.org.nz/seminar .

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