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The impact of media reporting of suicide on actual suicides in Taiwan, 2002–05
  1. Ying-Yeh Chen1,2,
  2. Feng Chen3,
  3. Paul S F Yip4,5
  1. 1Taipei City Psychiatric Centre, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  2. 2Institute of Public Health and Department of Public Health, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
  3. 3Department of Statistics, University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Hong Kong Jockey Club Center for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  5. 5Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ying-Yeh Chen, 309 Songde Road, Taipei City Psychiatric Center, Taipei City Hospital, Taipei 110, Taiwan; dai73{at}tpech.gov.tw

Abstract

Objectives To assess changes in the intensity of suicide news reporting in Taiwan's local newspapers after the arrival of a daily tabloid-type newspaper, Apple Daily (AD), and evaluate the impact of suicide news reporting on actual suicides and possible mutual causation.

Methods A counting process was used to estimate the intensity of daily suicide news items reported in the China Times (CT) and United Daily (UD) before and after the arrival of AD (2002–05). Poisson regression models were used to assess the impact of the intensity of suicide news reporting on the actual number of next day suicides. Granger's causation model was used to assess mutual causation between suicide news reporting and actual suicides.

Results There was a significant increase in reporting intensity of suicide news in the UD soon after the entry of the AD into Taiwan's media market, while a delayed increase of approximately 1 year was observed in the CT. After the arrival of the AD, the reporting intensity in the UD was significantly related to the occurrence of actual suicides (p<0.05), even after controlling for social variables, whereas no significant correlation was previously observed. Mutual causation between suicide news reporting and actual suicides was also observed.

Conclusions The presence of the AD in Taiwan has fuelled competitive reporting of suicide news among traditional newspapers. This increase in the intensity of suicide news reporting has consequently had an impact on the actual number of suicides. This provides further empirical support for improving media reporting as a key element in suicide prevention.

  • Media
  • mutual causation
  • reporting intensity
  • suicide
  • epidemiology FQ
  • suicide SI

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Footnotes

  • Funding This study was partially supported by a grant from Department of Health, Taipei City Government (Grant No: 99001-62-016), GRF grant of the Research Council of the Hong Kong SAR Government and UNSW SFRG/ECR grant.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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