Dealing with the media


Initial media reports in Bermuda of a suicide death will be taken from the Police statement which is usually made within 24 hours and will only name the deceased once the next of kin have been informed. The Police will state that the person was found in “an unresponsive state” and either that an investigation is ongoing or that “foul play is not suspected”.  Even if the Police are certain that the deceased clearly took their own life, only the Coroner can officially state that the cause of death was suicide (see Registry General & Coroner ). 

Unlike their counterparts in other countries, Bermuda’s media do not tend to be intrusive or sensationalist when it comes to people’s personal lives. In such a small community, reporters are generally very empathetic in dealing with such cases and it is extremely rare for them to even mention suicide as a possible cause of death unless it is stated during a court case or inquest. 

Nevertheless, it is distressing to see or hear reports of the death of a loved one in the media and you may not wish or be physically or emotionally able to talk to the media if you are contacted. One alternative is to prepare a brief statement and basic background about the person’s life and email it to the media outlet along with a photo.

There is no legal obligation for you to talk to the media. The Police Public & Media Relations Department can also assist and advise you in dealing with the media, especially in fielding intrusive inquiries that may be distressing to you. For more information, contact 299-4249 or pmr@bps.bm

A bigger concern today is likely to be social media and readers’ comments posted under an online media report of the death. These can sometimes be insensitive or unkind and only serve to spread gossip and misinformation. If this becomes a problem, report abuse to the media or social media network concerned ( Facebook has an abuse reporting procedure) or close the deceased’s account ( see Closing Accounts).

If you have a complaint about local media coverage of the death that you feel has not been adequately addressed by the editor, news director or website manager concerned, you should contact the Media Council of Bermuda: www.mediacouncilofbermuda.org or info@mediacouncilofbermuda.org


Reporting on suicide​

Suicide is a public health issue. How the media covers suicide can have a negative and positive impact - sensational reporting may lead to "copycat" behaviour while informed coverage can play a significant role in de-stigmatising suicide and encourage people to seek help. If you work in the media, we ask you to follow the recommendations of ReportingOnSuicide.org

These recommendations were  developed by leading experts in suicide prevention and in collaboration with several international suicide prevention and public health organisations, schools of journalism, media organisations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts.