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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(3), 451; doi:10.3390/ijerph15030451

Assessing the Use of Media Reporting Recommendations by the World Health Organization in Suicide News Published in the Most Influential Media Sources in China, 2003–2015

Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha 410078, China
Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 March 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Risk and Mental Disorders)
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Public media reports about suicide are likely to influence the population’s suicidal attempts and completed suicides. Irresponsible reports might trigger copycat suicidal behaviors, while responsible reports may help reduce suicide rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations to encourage responsible suicide reports in 2008. However, little is known about whether these recommendations are reflected in the suicide news for most countries, including China. In this study, we assessed the responsibility of suicide stories published in the most influential newspaper and Internet media sources in China from 2003 to 2015, using the media reporting recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO). In total, 3965 and 1836 eligible stories from newspaper and Internet-based media, respectively, were included in the study. Newspapers and Internet-based media performed similarly in applying WHO recommendations to report suicide news. Three recommendations were applied in over 88% of suicide stories. However, four recommendations were seldom applied, including offering information about where to seek help and linking the suicide event to mental disorders. Government and the journalism industry should work together to improve media reporting of news about suicide in China. View Full-Text
Keywords: suicide; suicide prevention; media reporting suicide; suicide prevention; media reporting

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Chu, X.; Zhang, X.; Cheng, P.; Schwebel, D.C.; Hu, G. Assessing the Use of Media Reporting Recommendations by the World Health Organization in Suicide News Published in the Most Influential Media Sources in China, 2003–2015. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 451.

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