Monday, January 30, 2012

Reporting suicide in the press.

In the city where I live a high profile woman suicided two days ago. This has again re activated the debate about reporting it in the press. The danger of such reporting is a copy cat effect and you can get a spike of suicides when a high profile person’s suicide is reported. It does happen.

In this instance I think the press has done a good job of reporting. It has been done in a temperate manner. No reporting on the how of what she did or any sign of sensationalising it and so forth.

Water woman

In my view there is a positive side to such reporting as well. It gets the topic out into the open and people do talk about it, when that happens it seems reasonable to assume that it could have the effect of reducing possible suicides. Unfortunately you don’t see any statistics of this of course. If people talk about their suicidality they are better off than if they do not. In my book I state that 75% of people do make some mention of their suicidal urges before a serious suicide attempt. It is a matter of hearing it which can be hard at times as it maybe mentioned obliquely.

This means there are 25% who make no mention of their suicidality prior to an attempt and as I note this is the highest risk group of all, which I call the DSR group. It seems logical to conclude that reporting suicides in the press could reduce the size of this group. But one will never know for sure because there is no way of recording this effect. If people are talking about suicides then it gives permission to others to do so as well.


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