KEY POINTS

  • Taiwan has enacted a law to bar media outlets from covering suicides in detail
  • The teen suicide rates are 19 percent more than the global average
  • New Zealand has statutes to restrict reporting on suicides unless there is confirmation from the chief coroner

A new in Taiwan law barring the media from revealing the different types of information concerning suicides like the method the victim used is stirring debate.  The objective of the proposed legislation is to reduce the potential for copycat behavior.

The limits on the coverage of these incidences by media are aimed at reducing overall numbers attempting to commit suicide in Taiwan.

Taiwan records high numbers of suicides. About 7000 teens tried to commit suicide in 2018, according to the ministry of health and welfare.  That was 19 percent above the global average. The number of deaths by suicide that year was 3,865.

According to the new Suicide Prevention Act, the websites, newspapers, and television networks may be liable to a fine of about $33,000 for providing photos, videos, or illustrations of suicide cases through their outlets. The same penalty would apply for revealing the suicide methods or explaining the ways to purchase tools for suicide.

The act cleared the public consultation period this past week. The government of Taiwan is now able to make changes as it wants. On the other hand, it can enforce the law within its current state.

Wu Chia Yi from the National Taiwan University College claimed suicide cases usually increase in Taiwan for three months following reports famous people have killed themselves.

Wu added that the more detailed the report concerning the suicide, the more influential it becomes to young people who might act the scenario out.

Taiwan’s major newspapers and news sites sometimes cover the celebrity and unusual suicides in great detail so they can drum up attention and a loyal following for their outlets.

The head of the East Asia bureau of advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, Cedric Alviani, mentioned that the law is going to hamper the ability of the media to retain their journalistic abilities.

He recognized that suicide is a terrible community problem, especially for teenagers. However, the solution being proposed to forbid the media from mentioning the topic is not exactly a solution.

The same statute has been enforced in New Zealand. The media is not allowed to report on the suicide method without the approval of the chief coroner. The world health organization also advises against explicit descriptions of the details surrounding the suicides.

Reporters without Borders claimed the Taiwanese government should better organize their media sector and discuss with the news outlets concerning standards of ethics and reporting on deceased individuals.

depression-824998_640 Depression Photo: Pixabay