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J Epidemiol Community Health 57:238-240 doi:10.1136/jech.57.4.238
  • Public health policy and practice

Media coverage as a risk factor in suicide

  1. S Stack
  1. Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S Stack, Department of Criminal Justice, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA;
 aa1051{at}wayne.edu

    Abstract

    A total of 293 findings from 42 studies on the impact of publicized suicide stories in the media on the incidence of suicide in the real world were analyzed by logistic regression analysis. Studies measuring the effect of either an entertainment or political celebrity suicide story were 14.3 times more likely to find a copycat effect than studies that did not. Studies based on a real as opposed to fictional story were 4.03 times more likely to uncover a copycat effect. Research based on televised stories was 82% less likely to report a copycat effect than research based on newspapers. A review of recent events in Austria and Switzerland indicates that suicide prevention organizations can successfully convince the media to change the frequency and content of their suicide coverage in an effort to reduce copycat effects.

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