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BBC criticised for suicide messaging on puberty blockers

February 2021

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Concerns have been raised about an article on the BBC News website which suggested teenagers may take their own lives if they can’t get access to transgender treatments.

A recent ruling in the High Court decided that younger teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to choose for themselves to take life-altering puberty blockers.

But the BBC News website published an article which suggested young people may commit suicide unless they can access the treatment.

The article, written by the BBC’s LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte, did not follow advice from Samaritans on media reporting of suicide.

The Spectator’s James Kirkup said the BBC should be ‘ashamed’ of its coverage of the subject.

He pointed out that the Samaritans advice to the media warns: ‘Steer clear of presenting suicidal behaviour as an understandable response to a crisis or adversity.

‘This can contribute to unhelpful and risky normalising of suicide as an appropriate response to distress.’

It also clearly states: ‘Speculation about the “trigger” or cause of a suicide can oversimplify the issue and should be avoided.

‘Suicide is extremely complex and most of the time there is no single event or factor that leads someone to take their own life.’

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