Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. newspaper reporting of suicide linked with some teenage suicide clusters

Date:
May 1, 2014
Source:
The Lancet
Summary:
Heightened newspaper coverage after a suicide might have a significant impact on the initiation of some teenage suicide clusters, according to new research. The study reveals that the content of media reports is also important, with more prominent stories (ie, published on the front page) and those that describe the suicide in considerable detail more likely to be associated with so-called copycat suicides.

Heightened newspaper coverage after a suicide might have a significant impact on the initiation of some teenage suicide clusters, according to new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

The study reveals that the content of media reports is also important, with more prominent stories (ie, published on the front page) and those that describe the suicide in considerable detail more likely to be associated with so-called copycat suicides.

"Our findings indicate that the more sensational the coverage of the suicides, and the more details the story provides, then the more likely there are to be more suicides," explains lead author Dr Madelyn Gould from the New York State Psychiatric Institute in the USA.

It is the first time that researchers have compared a national sample of adolescent suicide clusters with a matched control of non-cluster suicides.

The case-control study identified 48 suicide clusters in young people aged between 13 and 20 years old from across the USA between 1988 and 1996. Each cluster included three to 11 victims who killed themselves within 6 months of the first suicide. All cluster communities were matched with two non-cluster control communities in which suicides of similarly aged young people occurred, from non-adjacent counties within the same state. The researchers retrospectively examined 469 newspapers for stories about suicide published in the days between the first and second suicides in the cluster communities, and for the same length of time after the control suicide in non-cluster communities.

The researchers found that significantly more newspaper stories about suicidal individuals were published after the first (index) cluster suicide (average 7.42 stories) than after a suicide that was not part of a cluster (average 5.14). These stories were also more likely to be printed on the front page, include headlines containing the word suicide, provide a detailed description of the method used, or have accompanying pictures.

Further analysis showed that the location and method of death of the first cluster and non-cluster suicides did not differ significantly. This reduced the likelihood that the cluster index cases were, because of their very nature (eg, more well known or dramatic), followed by both more newspaper reporting and suicides.

According to Dr Gould, "Although we cannot show causality, our study indicates that media portrayals of suicide might have a role in the emergence of some teenage suicide clusters. The findings constitute the first available information on the circumstances differentiating a suicide that leads to a suicide cluster from one that does not. Our research also emphasises the importance of adherence to media guidelines that discourage reporters from using too much detailed or graphic representations of suicides."

Writing in a linked Comment, Jane Pirkis and Jo Robinson from the University of Melbourne in Australia say, "[This study suggests] that incautious newspaper reporting of suicide might compound the risk of an individual suicide becoming part of a cluster, at least in young people. This effect might be exacerbated for newer forms of internet-media that might be favoured by young people over newspapers…It makes intuitive sense…that less regulated, more volatile, and more interactive media might have an even greater effect, particularly because young people are not only major consumers of these forms of media, but also the creators of their content. Investigating the role of newer media in suicide clusters -- both mass clusters and point clusters -- is the next logical step."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Lancet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Madelyn S Gould, Marjorie H Kleinman, Alison M Lake, Judith Forman, Jennifer Bassett Midle. Newspaper coverage of suicide and initiation of suicide clusters in teenagers in the USA, 1988–96: a retrospective, population-based, case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry, May 2014 DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70225-1

Cite This Page:

The Lancet. "U.S. newspaper reporting of suicide linked with some teenage suicide clusters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501192621.htm>.
The Lancet. (2014, May 1). U.S. newspaper reporting of suicide linked with some teenage suicide clusters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501192621.htm
The Lancet. "U.S. newspaper reporting of suicide linked with some teenage suicide clusters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501192621.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins