Jacintha Saldanha: Samaritans reissue suicide reporting guidelines

Warning will come after inquest into the death of nurse who was found dead following prank call

The Samaritans are to remind newspapers and broadcasters of their guidelines on reporting suicide following concerns about coverage of the death of Jacintha Saldanha, the hospital nurse found dead in the wake of the Duchess of Cambridge prank call controversy.

On Thursday the charity will issue the warning after an inquest at London's Westminster coroner's court heard the first official details of Saldanha's death since she was found six days ago.

Detective chief inspector James Harman told the inquest that Saldanha was found hanging in her nurses' quarters near the King Edward VII hospital, which was treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness. She was found three days after a prank call from Australian radio presenters working for 2DayFM pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

The Samaritans have detailed guidelines on reporting suicide, including to avoid technical details or speculation of the method. The guidance warns against reporting suspected reasons for a suicide and advises not to disclose the contents of any suicide note.

Lorna Fraser, the Samaritan's media adviser on the reporting of suicide, said coverage of Saldanha's death so far had been "fairly responsible" – but warned that the mass coverage could have a detrimental impact on vulnerable people.

"It's such a high-profile case that with the inquest opening today there's a great risk of the media going out and focusing on the detail [of the suicide]," Fraser added.

"In such a high-profile case with such a wide-ranging audience care needs to be taken to be reporting around the means of death because there will be vulnerable audiences involved. The cumulative effect of such mass coverage is a risk in terms of potential copycat behaviour."

The Samaritans plans to send its guidance to all major newspapers and broadcasters later on Thursday.

Separately, the charity will approach any news outlet in cases where their coverage of the inquest raises specific concerns.

Saldanha's death has dominated headlines in the UK and abroad since Friday afternoon. The Australian DJs involved in the prank call have described how they were "gutted and heartbroken" about her death.

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Josh Halliday

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