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Crisis. 2001;22(4):155-62.

Suicide and the media. Part II: Portrayal in fictional media.

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  • 1University of Melbourne, Australia.


The association between the portrayal of suicide in fictional media and actual suicide has been debated since 1774, when it was asserted that Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther had led people to take their own lives. Since that time, a plethora of studies considering the association has been conducted. This review considered 34 studies examining the impact of fictional portrayal of suicide (in film and television, music, and plays) on actual suicidal behavior. It asked the question: "Is there any association, and if so, can it be considered causal?" Using strict criteria to establish causality, we found that the evidence was more equivocal than was the case for nonfictional reporting.

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