Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation released a statement Monday 20 September announcing the discussion of a new code of ethics for media coverage of suicide news. The new code, which stipulates ten articles, is expected to be issued within the next two weeks.
According to the statement, suicide or attempted suicide news must not be covered as “normal”, or be used as a way to increase viewership; it should be covered in the context of respect and preservation of human life. The Council also called on Egyptian media entities to be particularly careful with such news, especially when creating headlines, and to maintain the privacy of the victim’s families as well as avoid publishing comments or statements without their permission.
The Council stressed that websites and online media outlets are not allowed to broadcast or share videos or social media links of suicide or suicide attempts. However, when there is an absolute necessity to cover suicide incidents, they must add a trigger warning, avoid auto-play so viewers can consent to watching, and not rebroadcast or re-share the news unnecessarily.
The statement also highlighted the importance of adding the available resources and locations of psychological, medical, and community support, as well as help lines that community members can reach out to in such cases.
This initiative comes a few days after the suicide of a young woman at Cairo’s City Stars Mall on Thursday 16 September. The video of the incident went viral on social media, with many media outlets and social media users sharing the video without any trigger warnings and despite objections from the Egyptian Public Prosecution.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2018 statistics, Egypt has one of the lowest suicide rates worldwide, with around four per 100,000. It is due to its uncommon nature that whenever a case of suicide does occur, it quickly makes Egyptian headlines, with one the most common cases of suicide involving trains. This public decision can often be misunderstood or hard to grasp in a country where the topic is a societal taboo.
Call 0220816831 if you are in Egypt and struggling to be redirected to your nearest mental health facility.
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