Research is clear


This is an open letter from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention CEO Robert Gebbia.

The research is clear: inappropriate messaging of deaths by suicide can trigger others to attempt suicide.

Your help is especially important with reporting on the death of Robin Williams, as your story will reach a wide audience, including people already at risk, who may be contemplating suicide. Word choice, phrasing, and content matters. Please take a moment to make sure your reporting is safe. You just might save a life.

I hope Williams’s death will start a thoughtful conversation about suicide and mental health. Take the opportunity to encourage readers struggling with mental health issues to seek the help they need to get well-and stay-healthy.

Please see our short guide to safe reporting.

Thank you for helping to prevent suicide.

Bob Gebbia.

Chief Executive Officer

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

New York.


– Do include links to treatment services, warning signs, and suicide hotline (1-800-273-TALK (8255).

– Do include stories of hope.

– Do monitor comment sections to identity hurtful statements, or people expressing suicidal thoughts.

– Do contact an expert on suicide to get the facts.

– Do report suicide as a health issue.


– Avoid showing videos or photos of the method or location used.

– Avoid framing suicide in terms of success: do not say committed suicide; do not say suicide attempts are successful or failed. Instead say died by suicide.

– Avoid romanticizing the death.

– Avoid describing suicide rates as skyrocketing, or as an epidemic, or other strong terms.

– Avoid publishing text from a suicide note.

– Avoid quoting police or first responders.

– Avoid describing a suicide as inexplicable or without warning.

Tina Tappy

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis

2014 Walk Co-Chair

Dickinson County Out of

the Darkness


Walk For Suicide