To date, we don't have any taboo topics - subjects that may not be freely raised and discussed.
(Sure, we have rules about how the questions are asked and answered, we expect questions to be asked respectfully and we prefer potentially upsetting/Not-Safe-For-Work content to be clearly marked so people can choose for themselves whether to read it.)
However, a recent answer raises the question about whether we should have restrictions on how we report suicide.
The Werther Effect suggests that highly-reported suicides predict an increased suicide rate due to "copycat" suicides.
Many media outlets have codes of conduct to avoid promoting suicide.
I attempted to find evidence that the Werther Effect exists and codes of conduct work. This 2006 report suggests "yes and unclear": Media guidelines on the reporting of suicide
There is strong evidence for the existence of the Werther effect, or the phenomenon of an observer copying suicidal behavior he or she has seen modelled in the media. As a consequence, a number of countries have developed guidelines that promote responsible reporting of suicide. Using nine such guidelines as examples, this paper demonstrates that they tend to have similar content (emphasizing, for example, that suicide should not be glamorized or sensationalized and that explicit descriptions should be avoided, and stressing the importance of providing information about help services), but differ in the way in which they have been developed (e.g., the extent to which media professionals have been involved) and implemented (e.g., whether their "roll-out" has involved a considered dissemination strategy). The paper also reviews the evidence from evaluations of media guidelines, and concludes that it is too limited to determine whether the guidelines have had an impact on the behavior of media professionals or on completed and attempted suicide rates.
I am interested if people think:
- No, we are better off not limiting subjects by topic, to avoid the appearance of any censorship, or
- Yes, we should accept that words have effects, and it would be socially responsible to limit how we discuss suicide to avoid encouraging others to attempt suicide.
If Yes, it would be helpful to suggest an existing code-of-conduct we can adopt. Given our nature, it would be ideal if it was approved by appropriate scientific experts and/or had empirical evidence to its efficacy.
Note: I am not proposing a blanket ban on the topic of suicide. I am asking if it is appropriate to limit the manner in which we discuss it.