In the wake of the media frenzy around bullied teen Amanda Todd's death, it's not just schools and parents who need to take a look at their practices, but the media themselves.
Most news outlets have a clear policy on the coverage of suicide: It should not be reported except under extraordinary circumstances - when it involves a high-profile figure, for instance, or when it serves the public good. This rule arises from an overwhelming body of evidence connecting the coverage of suicide - especially stories that romanticize or sensationalize it - to copycat deaths among youth.
The initial coverage of Todd's death and the events leading up to it can perhaps be justified. By highlighting the apparent connection to bullying, the media helped to promote a much-needed dialogue on a serious issue.
But as the coverage continued, it veered into dangerous territory. Todd has been endlessly eulogized; her video has been played and replayed needlessly; news outlets have posted photo galleries on their sites. On Friday, our local dailies even reported on a similar incident in New York, going so far as to spell out the method in the headline and provide links to the victim's social media accounts.
The beneficial effect of these actions - all blatant violations of psychiatric guidelines - can hardly be said to outweigh the potentially devastating consequences.
If some media don't have clear rules on this issue, they need to write them. If they do, they should dust off their policy manuals and have a good long read.