We at Headline are writing to you in relation to the Hawe family murder-suicide inquest due to take place this week.
The Christmas and New Year period is a particularly vulnerable time for people and we have evidence of an increase in self-harm presentations to emergency departments during this time.
In advance of the inquest into the deaths of Alan, Clodagh, Liam, Ryan and Niall, we would like to remind journalists and editors about the guidelines for reporting on murder-suicides.
· Murder-suicides are extremely rare yet they tend to receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage. As with other suicides, there is evidence that reporting of murder-suicides can lead to ‘copycat’ incidents. There is a compelling requirement for factual but sensitive reporting in order to minimise harm and increase awareness of support services.
· Be extremely careful not to report graphic detail, particularly in relation to specific methods involved.
· When reporting on the actions of the perpetrator leading up to or during an incident, be extremely careful not to sensationalise or dramatise events.
· Think carefully before approaching potentially traumatised witnesses, victims or others affected by a murder-suicide.
· There is a risk that sensational media reporting of murder-suicide will distort the facts and contribute to fear.
· Avoid speculation about the motives behind the perpetrator’s behaviour – unfounded conjecture may unduly influence vulnerable people.
· Please consider the vulnerable reader who might be in personal or family crisis when they read the story: coverage should emphasise the appalling consequences of the event for those involved and others affected, and list sources of help.
Call 999 if it is a crisis.
Your GP will refer to appropriate HSE services, for example, primary care psychology, child and adolescent mental health, adult mental health.
You can also access free, 24 hour helpline support:
– Samaritans: Freephone – 116 123; Text – 087 2 60 90 90 (standard text rates apply); find your nearest branch on www.samaritans.org
Pieta House – 1800 247 247.
Children and Adolescents can access:
– Childline Helpline – 1800 66 66 66
– Childline – Text “support” to 50101 (available between 10 am – 4am daily).
Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline – 1800 341 900.
For information on mental health support services
Please visit: www.yourmentalhealth.ie
We thank you for your co-operation with this matter and if you require any further information on media reporting of suicide, please contact Headline: www.headline.ie firstname.lastname@example.org or @HeadlineIreland on Twitter
Download PDF of the Samaritans guidelines for reporting on murder-suicides here
Download PDF of NSRF murder-suicide briefing here