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PCC rejects 'copycat suicide' complaint against daily

The PCC found that the reporting of the suicide by the Southern Daily Echo was "suitably limited".

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint against the local newspaper Southern Daily Echo that its reporting encouraged 'copycat suicides'.

A complaint by Rosie Nicol-Harper, the director of a children's bereavement charity, referred to an article that appeared in the paper on 12 July, which reported about the death of 57-year-old Tony Rodskjaer after inhaling too much of helium gas.

According to the article, Rodskjaer, who bought a blow-up balloon kit complete with helium canisters, was found dead on the boat where he lived. The article stated that he died of inhaling too much of the gas.

Nicol-Harper said in his complaint that the newspaper was likely to encourage copycat suicides by revealing such details to the readers. He added that the article was in breach of Clause 5 (ii) of the Editors' Code of Practice, covering intrusion into grief or shock.

The newspaper responded saying it had omitted several other details from the inquest hearing such as how he had inhaled the gas and how much quantity would lead to death.

The Commission ruled that the newspaper did not breach any terms of the Code. It noted that the level of detail it had included was "suitably limited".