Posts By / aluce

Dr. Ann Luce honoured in Malaysia on World Suicide Prevention Day

Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication in FMC and her colleague, Dr. Ravivarma Rao Panirselvam, a psychiatrist in the Ministry of Health at Hospital Miri were honoured by The Honorable Dato Sri Hajah Fatimah Abdullah, Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development in Sarawak, Malaysia earlier today (September 10th) for their work in creating guidelines for police on how to speak with journalists about suicide deaths and suicide attempts.

The guidelines were launched at a World Suicide Prevention Day event where policy makers, Members of Parliament and the Sarawak State Assembly learned about suicide prevention and discussed the decriminalisation of suicide within the country.

The guidelines, and an accompanying Z-fold flyer for police duty belts, have been distributed to officers within the Royal Malaysia Police in Sarawak. The guidelines advise police to identify a single point of contact (spokesperson) to discuss suicides with journalists and advise them on what type of information they should share with journalists and how to do this safely and responsibly. The guidance also states that police should avoid talking about specific suicide methods and locations of deaths. The guidelines also advise police to provide helpline information so journalists can educate the general population that suicide is a public health issue and not a criminal one.

While Malaysia’s crude suicide rate is about 5.6 per 100,000 inhabitants and below the global crude rate of 10.6 per 100,000 people, suicide rates in Malaysia have been steadily climbing since 2010. With only one psychiatrist for every 200,000 residents in the country, Malaysia falls short of the World Health Organisation recommendation of one psychiatrist to 10,000 residents. Coupled with social stigma regarding mental health and growing mental health problems amongst young people, there is a push within the country to now decriminalise suicide.

Malaysia is believed to be one of about 20 countries around the world that still treats suicide as an illegal act. There are a further 20 countries which follow Islamic or Sharia Law where suicide or suicide attempts are illegal and can be punished with jail sentences.


Dr. Ann Luce at Mental Health Academy Suicide Prevention Summit

Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication in FMC is keynoting at the Mental Health Academy Suicide Prevention Summit on Saturday, 11th September in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10th).

In partnership with the British Psychological Society (BPS), the summit aims to equip practicing mental health professionals with the most up-to-date, advanced knowledge and treatment options on suicide prevention.

With suicide rates amongst medical professionals some of the highest in the UK, Dr. Luce will share early findings from her most recent research here in Dorset on how suicide is stigmatised amongst mental health professionals, the attitudes and barriers to seeking help within mental healthcare Trusts and what Trusts need to do to make the workplace safer for mental health staff.

Dr. Ann Luce to present at Public Health/NHS South West Regional Summit

Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication in FMC will present at the Public Health England and NHS England South West Regional Suicide Prevention Summit tomorrow, 3rd September in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day which is on 10th September.

Dr. Luce will be presenting with Kirsty Hillier, Head of Communications for Dorset’s Integrated Care System on the communication and media strategy she created for the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Public Health Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to de-escalate a cluster of suicides at a local railway station in Bournemouth in 2019-2020.

The paper, “Online and Social Media: supporting communities to respond to suspected clusters” will cover how the strategy contributed to the saving of 20 lives between October and December 2019, led to the creation of five active working groups within the multi-agency partnership: 1. Real Time Surveillance and Suicide Attempts group, 2. Communication and Media group, 3. Suicide Bereavement group, 4. High Intensity Presenters group and 5. Training group, and also de-escalated the cluster by June 2020. The paper will also discuss the importance of educating and training local MPs, Councillors, Media and Community on the responsible way to discuss suicide in face-to-face conversations as well as online.

The work is being hailed as best practice by Public Health England and NHS England and is being disseminated across the country via Integrated Care Systems and the regional summits.

Suicide reporting toolkit shortlisted for Scottish award

A collaborative project between Bournemouth University and the University of Strathclyde has been shortlisted at this year’s Herald Higher Education Awards.

The Scottish awards, organised by The Herald newspaper and recognising excellence in the HE sector, has shortlisted the Suicide Reporting Toolkit, produced by both universities, in its Research of the Year category.

Created by Dr Ann Luce (Bournemouth University) and Dr Sallyanne Duncan (University of Strathclyde), the Responsible Suicide Reporting model enables journalists – and journalism students – to make ethical decisions about their storytelling whilst under pressure from various news processes. It embeds global media reporting guidelines on suicide — World Health Organisation (WHO), Samaritans, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) — within journalism practice and functions within the storytelling process so journalists can question their choices as they produce content.

The toolkit has been supported by IPSO, The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, The Ethical Journalism Network and the Public Media Alliance. It has also been endorsed by the American Association of Suicidology and has been used by thousands of journalists worldwide.

Dr Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication at BU, said, “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured that The Suicide Reporting Toolkit has been shortlisted for the Herald Higher Education Awards in the Research Project of the Year category. Responsible media reporting of suicide can changes lives for the better. It can tackle stigma, point to helplines and support and can give those with lived experience a voice.

“We know from research that reporting suicide responsibly requires sensitivity and compassion. Journalism has the potential to cause harm to vulnerable people if journalists do not report suicide responsibly and ethically. The Suicide Reporting Toolkit offers practical resources for both journalists and journalism educators to help them achieve just that.”

The Herald is owned by Newsquest, with the media group showing strong support for the toolkit. The Awards will take place virtually on 17 June 2021.

The toolkit can be found at and for more information about communication and journalism courses, visit the BU website.

Dr. Ann Luce to give Keynote at American Association of Suicidology Conference

Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication in FMC will deliver one of three Keynote addresses at the annual American Association of Suicidology Conference on Saturday 24th April, 9am EST, 2pm BST. The conference, the largest annual suicide prevention gathering in the United States, will host a hybrid event, with more than 2300 registered attendees, looking at the theme of “Social Contexts in Suicide.”

Luce’s Keynote is titled: “The RSR Model & The Suicide Reporting Toolkit:Putting media reporting guidelines into practice.”

Numerous guidelines on responsible reporting of suicide have been available to journalists globally for more than 20 years, offering advice on best practice regarding approaches and suitability of content. Whilst their advice is compelling and legitimate, their use is uneven at best.

With a suicide death every 40 seconds worldwide, it is imperative journalists understand and recognise the best ethical practices in order to report suicide responsibly. Luce will present the RSR Model, which is grounded in news-work and embeds media reporting guidelines within journalistic storytelling practices.

The accompanying Suicide Reporting Toolkit for Journalists and Journalism Educators helps journalists understand how to implement global guidelines. The toolkit is underpinned by 15 years of research into suicide in the media, including the new Responsible Suicide Reporting model. The suicide reporting toolkit embeds five sets of global guidelines on the reporting of suicide from the World Health Organisation (global), Society for Professional Journalists (USA), Samaritans (UK & Ireland), National Union of Journalists (UK) and the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors Code of Practice (UK). Since its launch in August 2020, there have been more than 20,000 unique visitors to the site.

Luce will give an amended version of the paper at BU on Monday 26th April, 12-1pm as part of the Department of Communication and Journalism Research Seminar Series. Colleagues across BU are welcome to join via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 880 3442 0929

Passcode: FqeH6*.W





World Mental Health Day, October 10th

Dr. Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication in FMC is providing one of two Keynotes at, “The Summit: A Suicide Prevention Conversation 2020” in Africa, tomorrow, Saturday 10th October, 11am-2pm, to mark World Mental Health Day. The topic of her paper is: “Reporting Suicide Cases: A Media Guide to Language and Structure.”

The second Keynote, delivered by by Prof. Andrew Ezadduayan Zamani from Nasarawa State University will discuss the pressing need for evidence-based suicide prevention research in Africa and how to improve information systems in suicide prevention. This FREE online conference is open to all. Please register here:

On Monday, 12th October, 12-1:30pm, Dr. Luce will speak on a panel organised by the Ethical Journalism Network on the topic of Responsible and Ethical Reporting of Suicide and Mental Health in the Media, where she will discuss her new Suicide Reporting Toolkit for Journalists and Journalism Educators.

Introducing the event is Hannah Storm, CEO of the EJN. Moderating the event is James Longman from ABC News in the United States. Also on the panel is Kelly McBride, Senior Vice President of the Poynter Institute in Florida, USA; Richard Addy, Former Chief Advisor to the BBC Deputy Director General and Dr. Sallyanne Duncan, senior lecturer in media ethics at University of Strathclyde.

The panel will be hosted on Zoom and is free to join:

Meeting ID: 975 4748 2061
Passcode: 795262

World Suicide Prevention Day: Responsible Suicide Reporting Model helps media report more ethically and responsibly

By Dr. Ann Luce

Journalists have an important role to play in the prevention of suicide through ethical and responsible reporting of this sensitive topic. Global media reporting guidelines on suicide have been around for more than 20 years; UK-specific guidelines for at least half that. The Editor’s Code of Practice first updated its guidance on how to report suicide in 2006, with a further update in 2015.

Yet, suicide reporting in the UK continues to be problematic and harmful.  Suicide rates in the UK are on the rise. Statistics released just last week, in advance of World Suicide Prevention Day, by the Office of National Statistics show there were 5,316 suicides in England in 2019, a rise of 5% in the suicide rate to 10.8 per 100K people, the highest rate since 2000. The UK suicide statistics are not yet available, but expected in the months ahead.

In 2018, across the UK, there were 6,507 deaths, which left up to 878,000 people bereaved and at a higher risk for suicide themselves. Never has responsible and ethical reporting of suicide been more important.

There is broad agreement within all global guidelines on suicide that key areas to consider include: method and location; copycat behaviour; appropriateness of language and word placement in a story; sensationalizing or romanticising suicide; celebrity cases; unusual situations like murder-suicide; use of video, audio and social media and the inclusion of helpline information.

However, the clauses in regulatory codes of conduct—as opposed to guidelines—mostly concentrate on reporting the method, and while they might aim to minimise harm, their scope in terms of suicide prevention advice is limited.

Journalists have frequently reported that they don’t use suicide guidelines because, a.) they are unaware of the guidelines, b.) they’re not legally required to follow them c.)  they’re just too busy and forget to consult them. The problem here is that journalists do not always recognise the manner in which their reporting might be considered sensationalistic, stigmatising and unsafe.

My colleague, Dr. Sallyanne Duncan (University of Strathclyde) and I recently completed a study looking at adherence to media reporting guidelines in British journalism. We found that 55% of all stories in our sample were sensationalized. A quarter of stories provided explicit details about the method of death, while 23% provided explicit and unwitting ‘guidance’ or a roadmap on how to die by suicide using a particular method.

The word suicide appeared in 32% of all headlines, which is against the advice in media reporting guidelines.  Just over 20% of stories made specific mention of the location of the death while 13% of stories framed and ‘normalised’ the act of suicide as if it were a solution to a problem, a rather simplistic assessment of a complex public health issue.

Unsurprisingly, we found that 61% of stories implied or emphasised a reason for suicide, reducing a complex problem down to a single unconfirmed reason. In 15% of online stories, video accompanied the story, which is considered harmful to those bereaved, as in most cases they have not provided permission. Most worrying of all was that 60% of stories did not contain helpline information, breaking World Health Organization, National Union of Journalists and Samaritan’s reporting guidelines on suicide.

To help journalists report more responsibly and ethically on suicide, we have devised the Responsible Suicide Reporting (RSR) model and an accompanying online toolkit,

The RSR model offers journalists a middle way to minimise harmful content whilst maximising supportive, helpful elements. The model supplements the valuable guidance produced by organisations like the WHO, Samaritans, National Union of Journalists, Independent Press Standards Organisation and Mindframe (Australia), and embeds this guidance in the storytelling process.

The RSR model is pragmatic and internal to journalists’ news-work. It functions within the storytelling process, reflecting recognised journalistic narratives involving people, although it may not be applicable to every extant story type, eg. stories based predominantly on data/statistics. But, it addresses hindrances to journalists’ use of guidelines, eg. lack of awareness, reluctance to consult them, taking time away from reporting to check and apply them, tight deadlines and fewer journalists doing increasing amounts of work.

The Responsible Suicide Reporting model consists of three steps:

  1. Identifying the suicide story type
  2. Applying 4 ethical rules
  3. Applying a standard of moderation

In Step 1, we ask journalists to identify which type of suicide story they are reporting:

  1. Event driven: the first recognition that a traumatic event has happened and that a newsworthy death has occurred
  2. Post judicial: focuses on a court case, inquest or other legal proceedings
  3. Tribute driven: where the grieving family and friends pay tribute to the deceased
  4. Anniversary: normally marking the death’s first anniversary, but can be later ones as well (suicide anniversaries tend to happen in 1, 5, 10, and 25-year blocks, such as in the case of the rock musician Kurt Cobain)
  5. Action as memorial: where the bereaved family and friends undertake a campaign, fundraising event or set up a charity in memory of their loved one

In Step 2, we ask journalists to apply the four ethical rules:

  1. Do not sensationalise: this happens when you put the word suicide in the headline or use ‘beautiful quotes’ such as ‘heaven has a new angel’ or ‘RIP Babes’
  2. Do not stigmatise: this happens when you describe someone as a ‘victim of bullying’, or describe them by their illness (autistic), nationality (Welsh) or religion (Muslim).
  3. Do not glorify: don’t focus on suicide as a life choice or focus on a particular method, ie. How Robin Williams took his own life
  4. Do not gratuitously report: don’t overly emphasize the reason for death, or focus on dying at a particular location, ie. Golden Gate Bridge, Beachy Head or a railway station

In Step 3, we ask journalists to apply a standard of moderation by asking themselves six critical questions:

  1. Have I minimised harm to those affected by suicide?
  2. Have I told the truth, yet avoided explicit details of method and location?
  3. Have I taken care in producing the story including tone and language?
  4. Have I used social media responsibly?
  5. Do I avoid stereotypes, harmful content and stigmatising stories?
  6. Have I provided support via helplines?

If journalists answer no to any of these questions, then it signifies that there is a problem with the story and they should go back and fix the problem so as not to cause harm to their audience.

Our RSR model is an attempt to provide an instrument that journalists can habitually implement as they report, without having to search for or recall external guidance whilst they are under pressure to produce content. By applying the RSR model, journalists can test whether their reporting is responsible, and thus in line with suicide reporting guidelines, relevant clauses in codes and journalism regulators.

We hope the application of this model and further research on our part, will be able to show a positive impact on suicide reporting around the world

Dr. Ann Luce is Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University and Dr. Sallyanne Duncan is Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media Ethics, University of Strathclyde

Launch of Suicide Reporting Toolkit

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Suicide Reporting Toolkit: For Journalists and Journalism Educators, available now at:

We know from research that reporting suicide responsibly requires sensitivity and compassion. Our journalism has the potential to cause harm to vulnerable people if we do not report suicide responsibly and ethically. This new toolkit offers practical resources for both journalists and journalism educators to make sure we do just that.

Created by Dr Ann Luce (Bournemouth University) and Dr Sallyanne Duncan (University of Strathclyde), the Responsible Suicide Reporting model enables journalists–and journalism students–to make ethical decisions about their storytelling whilst under pressure from various news processes. It embeds global media reporting guidelines on suicide—World Health Organisation (WHO), Samaritans, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ)—within journalism practice and functions within the storytelling process so journalists can question their choices as they produce content.

We’d be very grateful if you could share this resource through your own networks.  You can also follow us on Twitter: @SR_Toolkit

The Ethical Journalism Network has provided its international support to the project with an article here and podcast here.

For more information contact Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication at: