Media Guidelines for Talking About Suicide

Thought. Care. Compassion.

Reporting on suicide in a safe way offers hope and information for anyone struggling with their mental health or worried about a loved one.

Research shows that safe and ethical reporting on suicide encourages help-seeking for those struggling with mental health and reduces the risk of additional suicides.

3 Key Guidelines

Be Mindful with Language & Images

Using the correct language and images makes a difference in de-stigmatizing suicide and mental health and reducing secondary trauma for anyone who has been impacted by suicide. 

two peoples hands holding



Words: “attempted suicide,” “made an attempt,” “died by suicide,” or “took his/her/their life.”

Images: show images that portray hope, help-seeking, compassion, comfort, etc. If permission is given by the family, show positive aspects of the person and who they were throughout their life.  


Words: "committed suicide," "successful suicide," "unsuccessful suicide," or "failed suicide."

Images: photographs or video of the scene of the suicide, or any images of the deceased, notes, or location. Avoid any imagery that portrays the person in pain or sadness or shows means of suicide. 

Avoid The Why or How

Suicides are complex and never happen for just one reason alone. It's not about just one thing or event but rather the combination of the person’s experiences, beliefs about the world and themselves, coping skills, social support, emotional wellness, physical wellness, and more.  It's important to build awareness of warning signs, but also relay that warning signs may not always be present. 

It may be our instinct to ask or describe how someone died by suicide. When reporting on suicide, focus on the loss of life, not the details of the death.

Offer Hope & Help

Make building awareness your primary goal for your story and always offer resources for folks who may be struggling.  Here's a sample of language to use:

If you are in crisis or worried about somebody's safety, help is available. Please call, text or chat with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Additional Resources for Talking About Suicide in the Media or Online

If you are talking about suicide online or reporting on a suicide, here are specific tips: