Media should not report news that contributes to increase of suicide, and a maximum fine of NT$1 million may be imposed in case of violation (Taiwan)

Sean Tsou

The President promulgated the Suicide Prevention Law (hereinafter, the “Law”) via Hua-Zhong-One-Yi-10800062181 Decree of June 19, 2019.  Consisting of 19 articles, the Law came into effect on the day of its promulgation.  The Law, which is newly formulated, is highlighted below.

First, with respect to the overall prevention structure, Article 4 provides that the central government shall set up an interministerial suicide prevention consultation committee to facilitate the promotion, support, coordination and integration of suicide prevention work of various government agencies.  Article 9 stipulates that national suicide prevention guidelines shall be formulated and implemented after being approved by the Executive Yuan.  Article 10 provides that the central government shall set up or commission the creation of 24-hour toll-free emergency consultation telephone numbers for suicide prevention.

In addition, with respect to collaboration from various agencies, Article 5 of the Law provides that the competent authority at the level of municipality under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan or county (city) shall set up a cross-functional suicide prevention committee in order to coordinate, consult, supervise, evaluate and promote suicide prevention work.  Article 6 stipulates that all agencies, schools, juristic persons, institutions and organizations shall accommodate the suicide prevention work promoted by the competent authority at the level of central government or municipality under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan or county (city), conduct suicide prevention education and provide channels of psychological counseling.

With respect to specific prevention work, Article 16 of the Law provides that the following matters shall not be reported or indicated in promotional materials, publications, broadcasts, television programs, the Internet or other media: (1) teaching of suicide methods or information that abets, induces or instigates suicide; (2) detailed description of the suicide methods and reasons in individual suicide cases; (3) words, voices, pictures or image materials that induce suicide; (4) intelligence concerning the sale of toxic substances or other legal suicide tools; and (5) other circumstances sufficient to promote suicide as determined by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.  In case of violation, a broadcast or television operator will be subject to a fine of NT$100,000 to NT$1,000,000, while the legal representatives and relevant actors of Internet media or other media in violation will also be subject to a fine of NT$100,000 to NT$1,000,000.

In addition, Article 15 of the Law specifically provides that the confidentiality of the personal information about the individuals committing suicide and their friends and relatives shall be maintained without unjustified disclosure.  In case of unjustified disclosure of relevant personal information, a fine of NT$6,000 to NT$60,000 will be imposed.  In addition, local competent authorities shall provide resources and referral services concerning psychological counseling, medicine, social welfare, schooling or employment to individuals who have attempted to take their lives and to their friends and relatives to avoid repeated suicide attempts.