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Newspaper reporting on a cluster of suicides in the UK

John, Ann, Hawton, Keith, Gunnell, David, Lloyd, Keith, Scourfield, Jonathan Bryn, Jones, Phillip A., Luce, Ann, Marchant, Amanda, Platt, Steve, Price, Sian and Dennis, Michael S. 2017. Newspaper reporting on a cluster of suicides in the UK. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 38 (1) , pp. 17-25. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000410

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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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
Publisher: Hogrefe
ISSN: 0227-5910
Funders: NISCHR Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 August 2016
Date of Acceptance: 2 March 2016
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2017 05:57

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