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Online media reporting of suicides: Analysis of adherence to existing guidelines

  • Michael Utterson (a1), Jason Daoud (a2) and Rina Dutta (a2)
Abstract
Aims and method

To assess the compliance of contemporary online media output with guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicidal acts. A search engine was used to identify online media reports of suicide from UK sources over the course of 1 month. Each article was assessed against guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicide produced by the Samaritans, a UK mental health charity.

Results

We identified 229 articles, of which 199 failed to comply with at least one of the Samaritans' guidelines. Failure to mention support sources, excessive detail about the method used and undue speculation about the trigger for suicide were the most commonly breached guidelines. Significant differences were found between the quality of local and national media sources, with local media sources being broadly more compliant with guidelines.

Clinical implications

This study highlights the urgent need for the implementation of responsible reporting guidelines in online media articles as a component of suicide prevention efforts.

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Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Michael Utterson (michael.utterson@doctors.org.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Online media reporting of suicides: Analysis of adherence to existing guidelines

  • Michael Utterson (a1), Jason Daoud (a2) and Rina Dutta (a2)
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