(Please see a link regarding media guidelines from the Samaritans at the bottom of this page.)
We are happy to confirm to the media whether we were involved in an incident which has been reported to you by the Emergency Services, but as you may be aware, BHCT restricts the amount of publicity it releases regarding suicide at Beachy Head and BHCT’s work there, because of the associated risk of attracting people to the cliffs. This is very challenging for a charity which needs to raise funds to continue its work, however the protection of life is our number one priority. The graph below gives you an example of how negative publicity of a suicide spot can attract despondent people there. The graph shows the searches and rescues performed by BHCT throughout 2009 on a month by month basis. On the 1st June the Puttick family were recovered. This very sad story was widely publicised in the national and international media, particularly over the following few weeks. Following this publicity BHCT saw a sharp increase in incidents, particularly over June and July. The following week alone saw the team involved in 33 searches which resulted in the rescue of 15 people who were despondent (1st – 7th June 2009).
The following graph compares the month of June from 2006 through to 2009, showing the uncharacteristic increase in incidents following the media attention.
Media guidelines from the Samaritans
There are guidelines which you are no doubt aware of from the Samaritans which can be found here. Within their advice they suggest that there is a risk of attraction by labelling a place a suicide hotspot and a risk of copycat if a suicide method is mentioned.