Restraint urged on suicide reporting

The media should show restraint in their reporting of family-related suicides, psychologists say in today’s Volkskrant. Increased media attention for such incidents leads to an increase in deaths, Ad Kerkhof, professor of suicide prevention at Amsterdam’s Vrije University told the paper.

‘It has been scientifically proven that news about suicides can lead to more, particularly when there is detailed reporting,’ he told the paper.
Kerhof was commenting on yesterday’s suicide by a 32-year-old man, who jumped in front of a train with his four and six-year-old sons. All three were killed. The man had earlier murdered his mother-in-law at her home in Haarlem.
Just one week ago, a woman and her two children were found dead in their home after an overdose of pills. The father survived and is in police custody.
After a spate of family suicides in the 1990s, the then-justice minister Winnie Sorgdrager reduced the amount of information given to the press about such incidents. In 2000 there was one family drama, in 2001 none, in 2002 two, three in 2003 and 2004, and five in 2005 and 2006, the paper said.
Age Niels Holstein for the anti-suicide Yvonne van de Ven foundation told the paper that Viennese research showed that train-related suicide fell by 80% when newspapers did not report it.
Every year, 180 kill themselves by jumping in front of trains in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant said.

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