Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — I rise today to comment on the recklessness shown by Today Tonight Adelaide in a story broadcast on 13 March. Dying With Dignity Victoria has sent this story to MPs in an attempt to use Rose's tragic death by suicide to persuade members to vote for assisted suicide. The stated goal of Victoria's Suicide Prevention Framework 2016–25 is to 'halve Victoria's suicide rate by 2025'. The framework notes that the whole community must:
…work together towards a shared vision to halve suicide deaths.
The story that was sent to us contradicts this vision. It also clearly contradicts the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, which states in section 4.3.9 that:
In broadcasting news and current affairs programs, licensees:
…should broadcast reports of suicide or attempted suicide only where there is an identifiable public interest reason to do so, and should exclude any detailed description of the method used. The report must be straightforward and must not include graphic details or images, or glamorise suicide in any way…
However, the story on 13 March portrays Rose's circumstances as hopeless, emphasising the burden she is to her husband. Rose's suicide is favourably described as a 'supreme sacrifice'. It is standard practice, as set out by the Mindframe National Media Initiative, to broadcast at least two helplines after any stories touching on suicide. None were given on the Today Tonight website after this story. The code provisions and the Mindframe recommendations are in place because of the well-established evidence that glamorising suicide as heroic or portraying it as an understandable response to difficult circumstances and feelings of hopelessness can lead others to commit suicide. We are not going to halve the suicide rate by promoting suicide as a legitimate, even heroic, choice for some Victorians.