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Differing perspectives on what is important in media reporting of suicide

  • Jane Pirkis (a1) and Anna Machlin (a1)

Summary

There is a substantial literature which demonstrates that irresponsible reporting of suicide can lead to copycat acts and, as a result, many countries have developed guidelines for media professionals. Some of the recommendations in these guidelines draw directly on the evidence and describe how reporting can be done in a measured fashion that minimises any likely negative influence. Other recommendations relate more to good journalistic practice and are about showing respect for the bereaved in their time of grieving. The study by Chapple et al, in this issue, indicates that there may sometimes be tensions between what media guidelines recommend and what those bereaved by suicide believe is important. We would argue that in such cases common ground can be reached.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor Jane Pirkis, Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia. Email: j.pirkis@unimelb.edu.au

Footnotes

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See pp. 228–232, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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1 Chapple, A., Ziebland, S., Simkin, S., Hawton, K. How people bereaved by suicide perceive newspaper reporting: qualitative study. Br J Psychiatry 2013; 203: 228–32.
2 McQuail, D. McQuail's Mass Communication Theory (5th edn). Sage, 2005.
3 Pirkis, J., Blood, R. Suicide and the media: (1) Reportage in non-fictional media. Crisis 2001; 22: 146–54.
4 Pirkis, J., Blood, R. Suicide and the News and Information Media: A Critical Review. Commonwealth of Australia, 2010.
5 Etzersdorfer, E., Voracek, M., Sonneck, G. A dose-response relationship between imitational suicides and newspaper distribution. Arch Suicide Res 2004; 8: 137–45.
6 Hassan, R. Effects of newspaper stories on the incidence of suicide in Australia: a research note. Aust NZ J Psychiatry 1995; 29: 480–3.
7 Fu, K., Yip, P. Estimating the risk for suicide following the suicide deaths of 3 Asian entertainment celebrities: a meta-analytic approach. J Clin Psychiatry 2009; 70: 869–78.
8 Pirkis, J., Blood, RW, Beautrais, A., Burgess, P., Skehan, J. Media guidelines on the reporting of suicide. Crisis 2006; 27: 82–7.
9 Dare, A., Andriessen, K., Nordentoft, M., Meier, M., Huisman, A., Pirkis, J. Media awards for responsible reporting of suicide: experiences from Australia, Belgium and Denmark. Int J Ment Health Syst 2011; 5: 15.
10 Leveson, B. An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. TSO (The Stationery Office), 2012.
11 de Groot, M., de Keijser, J., Neeleman, J. Grief shortly after suicide and natural death: a comparative study among spouses and first-degree relatives. Suicide Life Threat Behav 2006; 36: 418–31.
12 Niederkrotenthaler, T., Voracek, M., Herberth, A., Till, B., Strauss, M., Etzersdorfer, E., et al Media and suicide. Papageno v. Werther effect. BMJ 2010; 341: c5841.

Differing perspectives on what is important in media reporting of suicide

  • Jane Pirkis (a1) and Anna Machlin (a1)

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Differing perspectives on what is important in media reporting of suicide

  • Jane Pirkis (a1) and Anna Machlin (a1)
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