Suicides occur with distressing frequency in New Zealand. Sometimes they go unremarked. On other occasions they may attract significant public and media attention.
Whether restrictions should be placed on the reporting of suicides, or some aspects of them, has given rise to controversy. The existing law on the subject has also been criticised as needing clarification.
The Law Commission was asked to review and report on the law relating to the reporting of suicides by both the traditional media and in social media. It has done so, and its recommendations are set out in this Report.
The Report will be tabled in Parliament by the Minister Responsible for the Law Commission, and when so tabled will be publicly available for comment.
The government of the day will determine how to respond to the Report. It may do so as part of a review of the Coroners Act 2006, presently being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice. But a response to the Report is entirely a matter for the government.
The Commission hopes that its recommendations will clarify the law and help reach a balanced conclusion on the difficult issues of public health and freedom of expression that are raised by suicide reporting.
Sir Grant Hammond