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New Suicide Reporting Proposal

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 10:51 am Tue 1st April 2014

Article from Scoop News

The Law Commission is recommending revising the restrictions in the Coroners Act 2006 regarding reporting suicide. The new restrictions would be limited to public comment by any person of the method of the suicide death, the place of the suicide where it is suggestive of the method and the fact that the death is a suicide. However, a death would be able to be described as ‘suspected suicide’ where that is supported by the facts.

This will still require a law change passing through parliament. If the recommendations are to be accepted they would also include a new set of voluntary media standards. When considering restrictions on freedom of expression the commission raised two areas of concern;

1. Reporting the method of a suicide runs a risk of causing copycat suicide behaviour.

2. A death may not be described as a suicide until a coroner has determined that fact; however, it may be described as a suspected suicide when that is supported by the facts.

Changes as described above would at least put us on a level playing field with Australia where the suicide of a New Zealand man was reported by their media after the IRD raided his bank account on three separate occasions in one week in pursuit of child tax payments, otherwise referred to in New Zealand as financial problems.

While this is technically a relatively minor change to existing legislation it will no doubt take a considerable time to implement however as there is no enforcement of the current restrictions which clearly violate the Bill of Rights anyway, there is little reason not to implement the proposed standards which are long overdue.


  1. Barry Sopher enters the suicide debate

    In this country we’re burying our heads in the sand and it doesn’t look as though we’re going to come up for air any time soon even though the country’s Coroners, who’re at the pitface of the aftermath, have for years been saying it’s an issue that should be freely discussed.

    Comment by Downunder — Wed 2nd April 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  2. Somehow, like secrecy in the family court, we let ourselves be persuaded that we needed to be protected from talking about the causes of suicide.

    We let a small self-serving element within the state determine our culture.

    Comment by Downunder — Wed 2nd April 2014 @ 2:41 pm

  3. There is a gradual unfolding of the suicide debate and articles like this one (suicide a New Zealand epidemic) are a key element in reducing the substantial number of male suicides in New Zealand.

    It is a Stuff Nation article written by the wife of a 40 year old man (not by a journalist) and hopefully will encourage other relatives to speak up and enter the debate.

    Comment by Downunder — Tue 6th May 2014 @ 9:45 am

  4. Dear Downunder, thank you for spotting that article. It is beautifully written, through what must be a massive amount of pain.

    She makes many similar points, to those already made on

    Survivors and families need to speak about their experiences. They need to stand up and demystify mental illness across genders and cultures…..

    Research (The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide Prevention ) shows the two things that prompt a desire to suicide are feeling you don’t belong and feeling you are a burden rather than an asset to your friends/whanau/community.

    It suggests the key to suicide prevention is creating a sense of belonging and a sense that you make a valued contribution. Inclusion and participation are critical.

    The SPINZ website has a similar video. I challenge anyone to watch it without shedding a tear. Losing someone to suicide

    Easy to say, well I am sure not easy for her to say, but most men are not willing to risk standing out in any way.

    I have made similar suggestions, but have never had any discussion resulting.
    Father & Child Magazine Opinion: Protecting The Fathers

    and a sense that you make a valued contribution.

    Notwithstanding the judicial oath which requires judges to listen to both sides and the guardianship protections in CYFs Act and Care of Children Act, how many non-custodial parents feel that they have been listened to in familycaught$?

    I am not talking about patronizingly and dishonestly going through the motions of listening, with eyes rolling in boredom, but judges listening on an equal basis.

    It is not just to soothe the egos of non-custodial parents, or to con them into staying alive for their children’s sake, it is the active involvement of non-custodial parents that offers NZ the best possible chance of protecting children from the hazards, limitations and homicides by the custodial parents.

    Parliament saw this, but……

    We might even save some money presently wasted keeping some custodial parents in jail, after their frustrations culminated in the death or injury of their own children.

    Sensible supports might save most of these children from homicide?

    Can any non-custodial parents say that they have received human respect in familycaught$?

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Tue 6th May 2014 @ 11:16 am

  5. An experience in my youth lead me to believe ‘then’ that suicide was a weakness, a disgrace, something that brought shame to a family and was best hushed up and not discussed for the sake of the family name.

    I think to a certain extent the same stigma exists today, the writer making the point herself;

    Suicide is often spoken about in hushed tones. It is the shroud of silence, the shame of illness. Not talking about it isn’t working. People are still dying.

    I, like this writer, think differently now, not because I have shared her experience, but because I have had men that have considered or attempted suicide talk to me about it.

    It became obvious to me that this was very much a cause and effect situation (in these cases) that wasn’t helped by the legal restrictions that we have allowed to surround the issue – quite the opposite – it only encourages the chalk board mentality of some sectors of society.

    I have been and will continue to be a vigorous campaigner for change, and not because I am a survivor – but because I now think differently about this issue.

    I think no less of those men who shared their experiences with me, it was a temporary state of mind, not an illness as is sometimes the case. They were isolated, both by their experience and a fear of their perception of society’s view of them.

    But there is the difficulty; so many men who are not able to speak for themselves, believing in a social opinion that is unsympathetic to ‘their situation’ and their state of mind.

    That’s a waste of life and in many cases an injustice that should never have been allowed to exist and for that reason this battle is far from over.

    If you are a man and you’ve just read this the chances are you would not think like me because there was a time when I accepted what society encouraged me to believe. It is only my experience of life that brings me to challenge these historic and current legal conventions.

    We need to change our thinking about suicide if we are ever to see a reduction in the hundreds of male suicides we see each year – being less common I think would also reduce our youth suicide-rate, which is disproportionately high by world standards.

    Comment by Downunder — Tue 6th May 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  6. “So we sort of identified some especially vulnerable groups among the unemployed and some men.”

    Stressful marriage more likely to kill men, study finds.

    Women reported much the same stresses from a demanding spouse but it was less likely to kill them.

    The Danish study tracked the work and health patterns of 10,000 men and women aged between 36 and 52 over 10 years.

    It found endless fighting with a spouse can in fact be the death of you, especially if you are out of work – and riskier still if you are a man.

    Comment by Downunder — Sat 10th May 2014 @ 3:51 pm

  7. We need to change our thinking about suicide

    I suggest we need to change our culture, but this is deeper and broader than we might think, as it encompasses all of our values and aspirations. This is slowly happening and we can be confident it will help our great grandchildren, at present rates of progress.

    Similar issues were noted in Hong Kong in several economic downturns, that drop in pay or unemployment led to the man being henpecked by his wife, to extreme stress levels, where death became rationally attractive. This is what love is all about.

    This observation has led to Hong Kong putting fairly substantial funding into suicide research, aimed mainly at protecting men. MurrayBacon – axe murderer.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Mon 12th May 2014 @ 7:50 am

  8. There is only so many of us.

    What I have noticed with the reduction of men in the New Zealand population, which across the country is now 97:100 (97 men to 100 women), is that in an area that has a low immigrant base, i.e. Northland, the ratio is actually 87:100 where as major cities with high immigrant populations have closer to 100:100.

    In effect we are killing our local male population off and replacing them with immigrants.

    I have been wondering if immigration applications are viewed from the point of view of the number of male children a family has.

    As it is we’ve lost around 4000 men in the last decade just to suicide alone.

    Comment by Downunder — Mon 12th May 2014 @ 9:20 am

  9. Suicide survivor helps others

    His work is all voluntary and most nights he gets to bed about 3am.

    But Hwang says money does not bring happiness.

    “Earning and feeling that gain is one part of life, but the family, the love, that’s what matters.”

    Living without a steady income is not scary, he says.

    “What’s actually scary is losing someone you love.”

    Hwang is also making a series of documentaries about topics ranging from mental health issues to disabilities. Filming is under way for his first movie about bullying.

    The background circumstances are somewhat different to what we usually discuss on Menz, which tends to relate more to bullying by authority, still it will be interesting to see what he wants to portray in these documentaries.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 22nd May 2014 @ 9:14 am

  10. Update on changes to reporting of suicide:

    The Government will move to open up aspects of suicide reporting, in an effort to lower the number of self-inflicted deaths.

    The bill comes after the Law Commission recommended changes to the way suicides are reported in the media.

    The Government asked the Commission to review the issue, including the role of social media in discussing suicide.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the ‘role of social media’ mentioned above.

    As well as the suicide reporting amendments, the bill would also include previously announced proposals and a number of other minor changes already considered by Cabinet.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 22nd May 2014 @ 10:51 am

  11. Barry Sopher talks about the new reporting guidelines for the media and suicide.

    There are now, at least visible signs, that the media is willing to tackle the suicide debate and lead this discussion.

    Interesting that it is usually politicians that lead such discussions, with the media reporting the debate and questioning politicians.

    That in itself says a lot.

    Comment by Downunder — Fri 23rd May 2014 @ 4:34 pm

  12. Thanks Downunder, lets hope that the Government’s burst of openness extends to familycaught$, where they can save more suicides, than just by changes to suicide reporting.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 23rd May 2014 @ 7:28 pm

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