Media contagion and suicide among the young

  • Gould M
  • Jamieson P
  • Romer D
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Abstract

Research continues to demonstrate that vulnerable youth are susceptible to the influence of reports and portrayals of suicide in the mass media. The evidence is stronger for the influence of reports in the news media than in fictional formats. However, several studies have found dramatic effects of televised portrayals that have led to increased rates of suicide and suicide attempts using the same methods displayed in the shows. Recent content analyses of newspapers and films in the United States reveal substantial opportunity for exposure to suicide, especially among young victims. One approach to reducing the harmful effects of media portrayals is to educate journalists and media programmers about ways to present suicide so that imitation will be minimized and help-seeking encouraged. Recently released recommendations for journalists are attached as an appendix. Similar initiatives with the entertainment industry would be highly desirable.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Contagion
  • Media
  • Suicide
  • Youth

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Authors

  • Dan RomerUniversity of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center

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  • Madelyn Gould

  • Patrick Jamieson

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