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New Pasifika media resource for suicide prevention

Suicide is an issue of genuine public concern, and the Pasifika media perform an important role informing and educating communities about this complex issue. Stories that can address things such as likely causes, warning signs, trends in suicide rates, recent advances in treatment, and suicide prevention strategies all provide a useful context in tackling suicide.

Reporting a specific suicide event requires journalists and broadcasters to exercise fine editorial judgment within the framework of the Coroners Act 2006 and also best practice relating to the reporting of traumatic events.

However, our scoping report written by Pasifika journalist Sandra Kailahi identified that while many of the media organisations have discussed, produced or written about the issue, in most cases it was done with nervousness and fear – namely in how to address the topic with confidence and cultural competency and sensitivity.  

Sandra asked 23 Pasifika organisations based in New Zealand from print, radio, television and online media about their experiences around reporting on suicide or suicide prevention. The findings were used to develop Pasifika media guidelines for reporting suicide in New Zealand, which are currently being finalised after extensive consultation. 

This resource, ledd by Le Va, has been developed by and designed for Pasifika journalists, broadcasters and other media who may report or comment publicly on suicide in New Zealand.  It is part of FLO, New Zealand’s first national Pasifika suicide prevention programme which aims to engage, inform and equip Pasifika communities with the information, tools and resources they need to prevent suicide and the harm caused by suicide.1

The resource should be used in conjunction with the Ministry of Health’s Reporting Suicide resource guide for media.2 

This resource provides useful information on: 

  • Pasifika peoples and suicide in New Zealand
  • terminology related to suicide behaviour
  • issues and related legislation (The Corners Act 2006)
  • Ministry of Health media glance sheet
  • examples of reporting suicide in the media
  • language considerations when reporting stories related to suicide 
  • promoting help-seeking when reporting on suicide.

In October 2015 two workshops, co-facilitated by Le Va’s FLO suicide prevention staff members and Sandra Kailahi, were delivered to Pasifika media staff at Radio Samoa. Another workshop was held in November. The response from participants was very positive.  

Just being aware now has changed everything for me – I will not be reporting in the same way.”

It challenged my thinking and being aware I am a voice to making a difference.”

The following media have confirmed their support for the guidelines and commitment to participate in workshops on how to report on suicide and suicide prevention: 

  • Pacific Media Network
  • Radio 531PI Language Programmes
  • Pacific Radio News
  • Niu FM
  • Radio Samoa
  • Samoa Times
  • TNews
  • NZ Pacific Newspaper
  • Samoa Capital Radio (Wellington)
  • Dateline Tonga
  • Tonga Independent
  • Waves of the Pacific
  • 87.7FM
  • Tonga Media Network
  • KanivaNZ Online
  • Radio Tonga
  • Moana TV
  • Kakalu ‘o Tonga. 

International interest in the guidelines has also been received from the Pacific Island News Association and a request to present at the Pacific Media conference next year.

Additional workshops have been requested and will be held in November.

[1] http://www.leva.co.nz/suicide-prevention/what-le-va-does

[2] http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/reporting-suicide-resource-media

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Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.