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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Jan;9(1):123-38. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9010123. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Media roles in suicide prevention: a systematic review.

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Central Behavior & Health Science, Estonian-Swedish Mental Health and Suicidology Institute (ERSI), 39 Õie, Tallinn 11615, Estonia.


The aim of the current systematic review was to monitor and provide an overview of the research performed about the roles of media in suicide prevention in order to find out possible effects media reporting on suicidal behaviours might have on actual suicidality (completed suicides, attempted suicides, suicidal ideation). The systematic review was performed following the principles of the PRISMA statement and includes 56 articles. Most of the studies support the idea that media reporting and suicidality are associated. However, there is a risk of reporting bias. More research is available about how irresponsible media reports can provoke suicidal behaviours (the 'Werther effect') and less about protective effect media can have (the 'Papageno effect'). Strong modelling effect of media coverage on suicide is based on age and gender. Media reports are not representative of official suicide data and tend to exaggerate sensational suicides, for example dramatic and highly lethal suicide methods, which are rare in real life. Future studies have to encounter the challenges the global medium Internet will offer in terms of research methods, as it is difficult to define the circulation of news in the Internet either spatially or in time. However, online media can provide valuable innovative qualitative research material.


Internet; Papageno effect; Werther effect; copycat effect; media; media portrayal; media reporting; protective effect; provocative effect; suicidal behaviours; suicidality

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