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Media and Press

The media and press might report on deaths related to drugs and alcohol, which can be very upsetting for the family and friends of the person who died. Find out what you might expect and tips on dealing with the media in this section.

Social media and traditional media

You should be aware that information placed on the web cannot be controlled and becomes very public. The traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television) will also be able access social networking and tribute sites and draw information from them. 

Press and media coverage

Sometimes stories about a drug and alcohol-related death are reported in the media – in local or national newspapers, or on the radio or television. This can be very upsetting if you feel that the death of your relative or friend is being treated as a sensation, or used to sell papers. It can help to issue a statement, and there are some other things you can do to minimise the pressure on you, your family and your friends. If you feel you or your loved one has been treated unfairly in the media there are ways you can complain.

Some tips for dealing with the media

Talk to your immediate family and friends and decide what you are going to say, and who is going to be the family point of contact. Advise others of your wishes about contact with the media. Prepare a short statement, which could be released to the media, maybe with a photo. This may head off many queries.  You can also hand it out or send it to other reporters when they approach you. You may need to issue a more formal press release. If you are contacted by a reporter, ask for proof of identity and the contact details for the publication they are representing.

Media at the inquest

Inquests [2.1b] are public events where journalists may attend and report on what has happened. Suicide notes and personal letters should only be read out at the inquest if the Coroner decides it is important. If they are read out, their contents may be reported. Photographs of the person who has died and of the scene of death may also form part of the evidence presented at the inquest.  The Coroner’s office will not release any information to the media which has not already been made public through an inquest, unless the next of kin gives his or her consent.   

Media intrusion and complaints process

Those working for newspapers or magazines should abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Code sets out what the media should do to ensure stories are  accurate, and that privacy is respected as far as possible. The code includes rules for cases involving grief and shock. Publication in these circumstances should be sensitive. The code states that when suicide is talked about care should be taken to avoid giving too much detail about the method used.