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Society of Editors director backs media coverage of suicide spate

The director of the Society of Editors has continued to defend the media’s coverage of the Bridgend suicides in south Wales.

Last week suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS called for a blanket ban on media reporting of the deaths – now up to 14 apparent suicides in just over a year – for fear of copycat incidents.

But Bob Satchwell has fought back in two interviews on BBC Radio 5 and Radio Wales.

On the latter’s Good Evening show he was asked whether he agreed with Bridgend MP Madeline Moon who said some of the coverage was “absolutely disgraceful”.

Bob said: “No I do not. I agree when she says that there are a lot of things that can be done to help prevent suicide but one of those is not blaming the press or saying that they should stop reporting.

“I have read in the media a lot of harrowing and really frightening stories from some young people who were interviewed and they need listening to.”

During a Radio 4 interview, Miss Moon said: “Absolutely everything I’ve seen from the description of Bridgend as a ‘death town’, ‘suicide town’, talking about suicide ‘cults’ is absolutely disgraceful and has actually created additional risk for young people.

“I’ve got no problem with the media reporting something.

“What I have is a problem with the breaching of all the guidelines.

“For example, the Samaritan guidelines are very clear that you should never mention the cause of death because what you get is then copycatting.

“There is very clear evidence of this. And what have we got?

“Huge numbers of headlines here absolutely revelling almost in the cause of death, in the way death took place.”

So far the police have not been linking the spate of deaths.

Bob added: “There has been a great deal of conflicting stories from the authorities.

“The problem is that no one actually knows and no one seems to be investigating.

“They seem more concerned with the fact that the media are going in and asking these questions and the image this may give of the area.”

On Radio 5’s Drive show Bob was asked to defend the use of terms such as ‘death town’ as the deaths had occurred across the whole of Bridgend borough.

Bob said: “I think there are bigger issues here.

“There seems to be an unusual number of suicides in Wales and particularly this area and indeed Madeleine Moon has said so herself in the House of Commons.

“There are an unusual number of suicides occurring and there is a role which the media can play in trying to help in this situation.”


Emma Moll (25/02/2008 22:36:57)
I feel there is too much detail in the recent suicide reports. I am a close friend of James Knight who sadly took his own life last year. His family have found his death hard enough to cope with without Local newspapers persistantly putting regular detailed reports of how he killed himself in the papers. The family are finding this very distressing and have asked the papers several times to stop reporting his story in detail. Response from the papers was that as long as there was a story in it for them they would keep reporting it and that they were lucky as they could have put it on the front cover; i find this a sick, cruel and heartless response and shows no compassion for the grieving families and friends. The family have even saught legal advice to stop these reports but were told that they could not be helped.

marjorie pugh (01/04/2008 14:39:12)
have just put in search for H.G wells “when sleeper awakes”one of searches led me to bebo which has extract of book printed there part where someone falls from cliff and survives suicide mentioned profile.jsp member id4966575398 interesting ?