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Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc. 2007 Jul-Sep;16(3):251-5.

Mass-media, violence and mental illness. Evidence from some Italian newspapers.

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Department of Mental Health, Section of Psychiatry, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy.



Media reports related to people suffering from mental illness appear to deal prevalently with acts of violence and crimes. The present study focused on all newspaper reports relating to homicides, suicide, and other acts of violence, in an attempt to ascertain whether a different pattern emerged in some Italian newspapers in describing deeds committed by the mentally ill.


All articles published over a six-month period in the two main national and two main regional newspapers relating to homicides, suicides, and other acts of violence were selected. A comparison of reports regarding events attributed to mentally ill people was performed according to quantitative parameters.


2279 articles were considered; 54% regarded homicides, 8.2% suicides and attempted suicides, 2.1% homicides/suicides; the remaining 35.8% regarded other acts of violence. A significantly higher number of words, accompanying photos and a more stigmatizing language were used in reporting deeds when attributed to mentally ill people.


An excessive emphasis on deeds related to a psychopathological condition still emerged in media reports, almost as though acts of violence committed by the mentally insane should be viewed in a different light. These findings support the hypothesis that media portrayal mirrors the enduring stereotype of "diversity" of the mentally ill.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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