Dealing with the media


Initial media reports in Bermuda of a suicide death will be taken from the Police statement which is usually made within 24 hours. Police will only name the deceased in a subsequent statement once the next of kin have been informed.  

The Police statement will usually say that the person was found in “an unresponsive state” and either that an investigation is ongoing or that “foul play is not suspected”.  Even if the Police are certain that the deceased took their own life, only the Coroner can officially state that the cause of death was suicide (see Registry General & Coroner ). 

Unlike their counterparts in other countries, Bermuda’s media are generally not intrusive or sensationalist when it comes to people’s personal lives. In such a small community, reporters are generally very empathetic in dealing with such cases and it is extremely rare for them to even mention suicide as a possible cause of death unless it is stated during a court case or inquest. 

Nevertheless, it is distressing to see or hear reports of the death of a loved one in the media and you may not wish or be physically or emotionally able to talk to the media if you are contacted. One alternative is to prepare a brief statement and basic background about the person’s life and email it to the media outlet along with a photo. 

There is absolutely no obligation for you to talk to the media if you do not wish to. The Police Public & Media Relations Department can assist and advise you in dealing with the media, especially in fielding intrusive inquiries that may be distressing to you. For more information, contact 299-4249 or pmr@bps.bm

A more serious concern is social media. In recent years Bermuda has seen a disturbing increase in posts and comments that spread gossip and misinformation and show no sensitivity, empathy or compassion to family and friends of the deceased. Such behaviour only adds to the distress and trauma of the bereaved and can seriously impact their own mental and physical wellbeing.  Bermuda online safety website Cybertips highlighted the problem in this article #PauseBeforeYouPost, written by LOSS member Juanae Crockwell.

Any abuse or innappropriate posts should be reported immediately to the Police and the media or social media network concerned. How to report offensive or abusive behaviour on social media.

If you have a complaint about local media coverage of the death that you feel has not been adequately addressed by the editor, news director or website manager concerned, you should contact the Media Council of Bermuda ( info@mediacouncilofbermuda.org)



Reporting on suicide​

Suicide is a public health issue. How the media covers suicide can have a negative and positive impact - sensational reporting may lead to "copycat" behaviour while informed coverage can play a significant role in de-stigmatising suicide and encourage people to seek help. If you work in the media, we ask you to follow the recommendations of ReportingOnSuicide.org

These recommendations were  developed by leading experts in suicide prevention and in collaboration with several international suicide prevention and public health organisations, schools of journalism, media organisations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts.