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Media Heals: How Mindful Media can save lives

Trigger Warning: mentions of suicide

Media plays a crucial role in preventing suicide and self-harm. With care and sensitivity in handling and covering the topic of suicide, media can alter people’s perceptions, debunk myths, and inform the public on the complexities of the issue. To achieve this goal, a ‘mindful media’ is needed — a media that is respectful, responsible, and caring.

The Department of Health (DOH)-Health Promotion Bureau, together with the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines and Australian AID, through a Mindful Media Pilot Capacity Development Session for Government Agencies, shared the Media Guidelines and Practitioners Checklist on the responsible and ethical reporting and handling of suicide in the media.

How to be a Mindful Media

RESPECTFUL (Promotes respect for life and for persons)

  • Do afford privacy and show compassion when interviewing bereaved family or friends
  • Do avoid describing the details of a suicide
  • Do show empathy to all involved
  • Do seek feedback from the persons with lived experience of suicide or survivors of suicide loss on the report before publishing and release
  • Do avoid using graphic photos, videos, audio, etc., depicting the incident
  • Do use alternative images and graphics
  • Do avoid publishing suicide notes or any related letters of the victims
  • Don’t use any personal and sensitive information and material of the person suspected or confirmed to have died by suicide (names, photographs)
  • Don’t use the words “suicide” or “nagpakamatay” in headlines
  • Don’t use language, scripts, and dialogues that belittles, blames, or shames people who have thoughts of suicide or past suicide attempts

RESPONSIBLE (Prevents further harm)

  • Do be certain of the facts of the incident
  • Do report in a factual manner
  • Do ground suicide-related plotlines on real life and research
  • Do provide audiences with necessary information for informed decision-making such as trigger warnings, content advisories, and/or other disclaimers
  • Do avoid describing the details of suicide
  • Do avoid giving prominent space or airtime to a suicide report
  • Do depict suicide without romanticization or suggest that good outcomes are brought out of suicide whether for the individual or for the people surrounding them
  • Do avoid using language that glamourizes or normalizes suicide
  • Do provide reliable information on suicide
  • Do consult a mental health professional prior to reporting and throughout the creative process
  • Don’t report an incident as a suicide unless confirmed by proper authorities
  • Don’t use sensational headlines
  • Don’t attribute suicide to a single cause

CARING (Promotes healing and support)

  • Do provide accurate information about where to seek help
  • Do provide reliable information on suicide prevention
  • Do educate the public about facts of suicide and suicide prevention, without spreading myths
  • Do develop stories featuring proven coping mechanisms or interventions
  • Do focus on coping, receiving support, and/or seeking professional help for mental health and suicide
  • Do recognize that you yourself may be affected when reporting on suicide

These guidelines when followed by media responsibly and ethically can save lives. Because at the end of the day, when media is respectful, responsible, and caring, people are dignified, protected, and healed.

In case you or someone you're acquainted with needs help, you may contact the National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 1553 or 1800-1888-1553 (Nationwide landline toll-free), or reaching out to 0917-899-8727 or 0966-351-4518 (Globe/TM) or 0908-639-2672 (Smart/Sun/TNT). Additionally, you may also contact the DOH Health Promotions Bureau at or call 8651-7800 local 2830, 2825. You may also reach out to the DOH Communication Unit at or call 8651-7800 local 1136, or the DOH Special Care Division at or call 8651-7800 local 1733. (EEDC-CPSD)

About the Author

Eunice Dela Cruz


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