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Suicide should be reported with caution

ANI | Updated: Jul 30, 2018 21:05 IST

Washington DC, [USA] July 30 (ANI): A recent study has suggested that cases of suicide should be carefully reported by media, failing to do which can have serious implications on vulnerable individuals.
The study, conducted by an international research team, examining media reporting of suicide, has found noteworthy relations between reporting details and suicide deaths.
Dr. Mark Sinyor, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto says, "It is important for reporters and media outlets to understand that how they report on suicide can have a real impact across the population."
According to the findings of a previous study on the same matter, vulnerable people can be influenced toward similar behaviour if exposed to media reporting on suicide.
On the other hand, if media reports include resources such as crises services and messages of hope, things that would remind a person in crisis that suicide is not the only option, it can end up having a positive impact on the public, says Dr. Sinyor.
Researchers from Canada, Australia, and Austria, examining the relationship between the two, looked at about 17,000 articles in 13 major publications in the Toronto media market and suicide deaths in the city between 2011 and 2014.
The study pointed out that reporting on suicide can have some significant effect on suicide deaths. It also suggested that media should be careful about the content of reports.
The research recorded that there were 6,367 articles on suicide and 947 suicide deaths in Toronto over the same period. Elements like describing the method of suicide (especially in the headline), reporting suicide in celebrities and calling it inevitable, were associated with increased suicides in the city.
"Contagion is thought to occur when a vulnerable reader identifies with suicide-related media. The fact that reports about celebrity suicide appeared to lead to contagion but the reverse was seen for reports about murder-suicide is very much in keeping with what we know," says Dr. Sinyor.
Advising the media to be careful about such issues Dr. Sinyor says, "Suicide is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by many factors. We encourage journalists to take extra care to contextualize their reporting, especially when a story is about someone or a situation that people are likely to identify with."
The findings appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (ANI)

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