I can’t remember a single newsroom in which I worked where we didn’t have to report on someone who died by suicide. I also can’t remember ever having a coherent, clear and logically developed plan on how best to do that.
Having to put together a plan on the fly or trying to recall some arcane theory of what we were “supposed to do” based on newsroom mythology isn’t the best way to deal with this situation, but it was what we often did. Fortunately, things have evolved over the last decade or so, with some truly important work emerging to guide us as writers and reporters.
The folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison put together this amazing article through the Center for Journalism Ethics that explores this sensitive topic at length. The center also has produced a set of resources to help journalists report and write on this topic in an effective and humane fashion.
For some additional resources and insights, feel free to check out this post we did a while back, with some amazing insights from Nicole Bogdas, who spent time working in crisis intervention.