October 12, 2015
Best practice guidelines:
In light of recent events, media professionals may find this summary of research on media reporting of murder-suicide helpful:
In Ireland, as in most other countries, cases of murder-suicide are rare. However, since 2004, there have been at least 18 murder-suicide cases in Ireland. The impact of these events can be devastating on families and communities. When dealing with this sensitive issue, it is important to conduct independent in-depth investigations of each case in order to improve our knowledge of risk factors and patterns, which will contribute to enhanced risk assessment and prevention of similar cases in the future.
In terms of responding to murder-suicide, in 2011 the National Office for Suicide Prevention published guidelines for responding to situations of murder-suicide and emerging suicide clusters, based on international evidence and best practice. The guideline document underlines a pro-active approach in that each local health area needs to prepare a response plan that can be activated when these very tragic situations occur.
Recommendations for media professionals:
In terms of media reporting, there is a need for sensitive and factual reporting in order to minimise harm and increase awareness:
- The graphic nature of reporting can trigger copycat cases: the effects of exposure on suicidal behaviour and violence are well-documented.
- Sensational media reporting of murder-suicide serves to distort the facts.
- Media professionals should consider the vulnerable reader who might be in crisis when they read the story: coverage should not be glorified or romanticised, should emphasise consequences of the event for others, and list sources of help.
- Details of previous cases of murder suicide should not be re-reported
- For general tips on best practice consult Samaritans and IAS’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide in Ireland
For general tips on best practice consult Headlines multi-media guidelines https://headline.ie/multimedia-resource/
For further information, please contact:
Professor Ella Arensman, Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation
If you have any questions, or would like to avail of free media training, please do not hesitate to contact Headline on
T: 01 860 1549