The Government Information department yesterday issued fresh instructions on reporting suicides and suicide attempts in broadcast media. The move came after a number of TV channels broadcast footage of a youth committing suicide near a railway line.
The letter signed by Information Director Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya calls the move by some private channels to show the footage a “blatant violation of media ethics.” The latest lapse in reporting by television networks also highlight a pressing need for an independent monitoring body, the letter sent to all media institutions highlighted.
“The government believes that the reason for such ethics violation is absence of an independent monitoring body for broadcasting media and this demonstrates a dire need to establish such a body,” the letter stated. Drawing attention to the fundamentals of Media ethics to ensure minimising harm, Kalansooriya stated that showing such footage on national television which was soon shared through online fora, may cause further grief to the family of victim and traumatise other viewers.
The department letter also requested all media institutions to abide by established regulations in the country governing reporting suicides.
Reporting of suicides has become more elaborate and detailed over the years, which suicide watch organisations such as Sumithrayo claim as a contributing factor to copycat suicides.