Suicide coverage in U.S. newspapers following the publication of the media guidelines.

Research paper by Phillip T PT Tatum, Silvia Sara SS Canetto, Michael D MD Slater

Indexed on: 03 Nov '10Published on: 03 Nov '10Published in: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior


A nationally representative sample of 968 local and national newspapers was examined to determine whether the 2001 U.S. media guidelines were followed in articles published in 2002-2003, and featuring individual cases of suicidal behavior (N = 157). We found that, during this period of time, U.S. newspaper suicide coverage did not consistently reflect the influence of the media guidelines. On the positive side, only 19% of stories included inappropriate imagery. On the negative side, suicide stories often detailed suicide method (56% of stories) and location (58%), and rarely provided information about warning signs and risk factors (1%), the roles of depression (4%) and alcohol (2%), and prevention resources (6%). Our findings, together with previous evidence, suggest the need for sustained dialogue with the media about suicide reporting.