How NOT to report a suicide: Learning from the case of family suicide in Bhopal

By Rishabh Shrivastava

*Trigger Warning: Suicide*

Few days ago, a family of four died by suicide in Bhopal. The tragedy was sensationalized and was published all across as ‘breaking news’ by the local media. However, in doing so, these media platforms forgot to ethically report on this sensitive issue and ended up publishing photos of the deceased members, their home, suicide note, and more. It was distressing to see all this appearing on the front pages of the city’s morning dailies for days.

Responsible media reporting on suicide is crucial in tackling the suicide crisis. One very important thing that this incident has highlighted is how local media platforms in non-metro cities remain poorly trained to report on issues around mental health. It is high time for the government and development agencies to conduct training programmes for journalists, social media influencers, communicators, and editors based in non-metro cities and small towns, on how to report suicide and other mental health issues in society.

There are several guidelines on how to report a suicide. However, there exists a set of well-compiled and comprehensive media guidelines on reporting suicide by the Centre for Mental Health, Law and Policy (CMHLP) in Pune, Maharashtra. This was created after compiling various such guidelines developed by the World Health Organisation, Canadian Psychiatric Association, Hunter Institute of Mental Health, The Carter Centre, Samaritans, SNEHA-Suicide Prevention Centre (Chennai), and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (India).  

Read the guidelines here.

Rishabh is the Co-founder and Chief Editor at TA. He tweets at @Writer_Rishabh.

The Analysis (TA) is a research and communication group working on issues of law and public policy in India. Feel free to share your submissions with us at

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