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Palo Alto clamps down on public information

Palo Alto officials are taking a different approach when it comes to communicating with the media in the wake of four suicides by teenagers on the Caltrain tracks.

Bay City News reported Tuesday:

The Mercury News and Daily News said in today’s editions:

The decision to clamp down on public information runs contrary to recommendations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives for prevention and containment of suicide clusters. Section VIII of the CDC’s guidelines begins with this statement: “A timely flow of accurate, appropriate information should be provided to the media.”

These are a few of the points the CDC makes in its advice to government officials or others coordinating a response to a suicide cluster:

The CDC guidelines also say, “Gaining the cooperation of media representatives in this regard is also a formidable task. In the midst of a crisis, the frequent presentation of accurate and credible information is the best means of establishing such cooperation.”

The CDC guidelines also suggest that officials convince community members not to comment to the press and instead refer comments to the appointed spokespersons. The public, of course, has a constitutional right to talk to a reporter at any time. 

For additional information on the coverage of suicides, here are two links:

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