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Media Roles in Suicide Prevention: A Systematic Review
Central Behavior & Health Science, Estonian-Swedish Mental Health and Suicidology Institute (ERSI), 39 Õie, Tallinn 11615, Estonia
Institute of Social Work, Tallinn University, 25 Narva mnt, Tallinn 10120, Estonia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 November 2011; in revised form: 15 December 2011 / Accepted: 30 December 2011 / Published: 4 January 2012
Abstract: The aim of the current systematic review was to monitor and provide an overview of the research performed about the roles of media in suicide prevention in order to find out possible effects media reporting on suicidal behaviours might have on actual suicidality (completed suicides, attempted suicides, suicidal ideation). The systematic review was performed following the principles of the PRISMA statement and includes 56 articles. Most of the studies support the idea that media reporting and suicidality are associated. However, there is a risk of reporting bias. More research is available about how irresponsible media reports can provoke suicidal behaviours (the ‘Werther effect’) and less about protective effect media can have (the ‘Papageno effect’). Strong modelling effect of media coverage on suicide is based on age and gender. Media reports are not representative of official suicide data and tend to exaggerate sensational suicides, for example dramatic and highly lethal suicide methods, which are rare in real life. Future studies have to encounter the challenges the global medium Internet will offer in terms of research methods, as it is difficult to define the circulation of news in the Internet either spatially or in time. However, online media can provide valuable innovative qualitative research material.
Keywords: media; media reporting; media portrayal; suicidal behaviours; suicidality; protective effect; provocative effect; Internet; copycat effect; Werther effect; Papageno effect
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MDPI and ACS Style
Sisask, M.; Värnik, A. Media Roles in Suicide Prevention: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 123-138.
Sisask M, Värnik A. Media Roles in Suicide Prevention: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(1):123-138.
Sisask, Merike; Värnik, Airi. 2012. "Media Roles in Suicide Prevention: A Systematic Review." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 9, no. 1: 123-138.