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Charity calls for end to press coverage of suicide spate

A suicide prevention charity has called for an end to media coverage of the deaths in south Wales.

PAPYRUS, which was set up by parents whose children had killed themselves, says that further press reports could make the situation worse.

It said it was well-known that insensitive media reporting could lead to copycat cases.

Fourteen people have been found dead in apparent suicides in just over a year in Bridgend and its surrounding towns and villages.

The latest incident came on Monday when 18-year-old Angeline Fuller was, according to press reports, found hanging from a banister in the home she shared with her fiancé.

The death came just days after the funeral of a 17-year-old girl who was found dead in her family home.

PAPYRUS chairman Anne Parry said: “Media coverage must stop. “We believe there is nothing further to be gained.

“We are seriously concerned that any more coverage would be counter-productive and exacerbate the current state of affairs, with disastrous results.

“At worst it could lead to further suicide attempts. We are asking media please do not draw further attention to this situation.

“We are also calling on other charities to support our initiative.”

In June 2006, the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee set up new press reporting guidelines designed to help prevent copycat suicides.

A new sub-clause was added which stated that, when reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used.

The incidents in Bridgend have been the subject of massive national and international media attention with speculation linking some of the deaths to pro-suicide websites.

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon is due to lead a debate about the suicides in the House of Commons.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “There are very strict guidelines about not revealing too much detail about the cause of death. It would be ridiculous not to say what the cause of death was.”

There had been no complaints to the PCC as yet and he added: “It’s been quite clear over the last year that reporting has been better.”