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Crisis. 2017 Jan;38(1):17-25. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000410. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

Newspaper Reporting on a Cluster of Suicides in the UK.

Author information

1
1 Swansea University Medical School, Institute of Life Sciences 2, Swansea University, Swansea, UK.
2
7 Public Health Wales National Health Service Trust, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
3
2 Centre for Suicide Research, Department of Psychiatry, Warnford Hospital, Oxford, UK.
4
3 School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
5
4 School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK.
6
5 Institute for Media and Communication Research, Bournemouth University, UK.
7
6 Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Media reporting may influence suicide clusters through imitation or contagion. In 2008 there was extensive national and international newspaper coverage of a cluster of suicides in young people in the Bridgend area of South Wales, UK.

AIMS:

To explore the quantity and quality of newspaper reporting during the identified cluster.

METHOD:

Searches were conducted for articles on suicide in Bridgend for 6 months before and after the defined cluster (June 26, 2007, to September 16, 2008). Frequency, quality (using the PRINTQUAL instrument), and sensationalism were examined.

RESULTS:

In all, 577 newspaper articles were identified. One in seven articles included the suicide method in the headline, 47.3% referred to earlier suicides, and 44% used phrases that guidelines suggest should be avoided. Only 13% included sources of information or advice.

CONCLUSION:

A high level of poor-quality and sensationalist reporting was found during an ongoing suicide cluster at the very time when good-quality reporting could be considered important. A broad awareness of media guidelines and expansion and adherence to press codes of practice are required by journalists to ensure ethical reporting.

KEYWORDS:

guidelines; newspaper reporting; suicide cluster

PMID:
27445013
DOI:
10.1027/0227-5910/a000410
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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