Journalists are to be issued with new rules governing reporting of suicide in an attempt to prevent the phenomenon of "copycat" deaths prompted by publicity.
The Press Complaints Commission has approved a new sub-clause to the code of practice for journalists warning the media to avoid "excessive" detail about the method used for a suicide, except in cases where this is in the public interest.
The new rule is in addition to the requirement to carry out inquiries with sympathy and discretion and to handle publication of such cases sensitively.
The change has come after the annual review of the code of practice carried out by the editors' code of practice committee.
Members chose to add the new clause after considering international evidence highlighting the dangers of copycat deaths following reports of suicide.
Editors' code of practice committee chairman Les Hinton, executive chairman of News International, said: "During our annual review, we received convincing evidence, from the Samaritans and others, that media reporting of suicide often prompted copycat cases. It is an international phenomenon.
"We have attempted to minimise that risk by emphasising the need for care to avoid excessive detail, unless it is in the wider public interest to give the information.
"We have consulted with the industry on this and it has been accepted. The new rule, in effect, codifies a practice already currently followed by many editors."
The new clause has been welcomed by Samaritans, the charity which provides support to people in emotional distress. ..SUPL: