News coverage of suicides by local television and newspapers is more likely to trigger suicide attempts in others than national news stories on the subject, according to a new study that tracked reporting and health statistics in six U.S. cities.
The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Communication, is the most comprehensive and recent analysis of the influence of the news media on suicide. For the first time, local TV coverage of the subject, in addition to print coverage, was measured and weighed against official suicide data.
The cities involved in the analysis were Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
“This study reconfirms that, for some vulnerable people, news stories about suicide can be deadly, especially when they come from local sources,” said Daniel Romer, who co-authored the paper with Patrick E. Jamieson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. All are affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.