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Does it matter how the media covers suicide?


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Jun 10, 2018
Categories: Entertainment, News, Society

Does it matter how the media covers suicide?

Warning: below contains explicit mention and discussion of suicide. 

Article link:

After two subsequent celebrity suicides by Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, attention has been given to how these sensational deaths are portrayed in the media and how this might be affecting suicidal individuals. According to the article, there are ways for news outlets to responsibly report on suicide, which include providing readers with suicide hotlines and other resources, avoiding the lionization of the celebrity in question, oversimplifying the cause of death, and presenting the means of death in explicit detail.

The latter of these is perhaps the most obviously linked to more suicides, as after Robin Williams' death, there was an uptick in those who killed themselves in a similar way. Providing resources for readers and viewers is fairly straightforward as well, as those who are upset by or triggered by the suicides may need to reach out to those resources. The lionization of celebrities who do kill themselves is also a factor, as it may encourage those who feel hopeless in life to commit suicide in order to be similarly remembered. Finally, oversimplifying the cause of death ignores the complexities that the suicide victim may have been dealing with. 

I think suicide is ultimately the result of the mental illness of the suicidal person, so I don't think media coverage causes others to commit suicide, but it can influence those who are already suicidal to perhaps take their lives sooner. I agree that media can take steps to ensure that suicide is presented in the least harmful way. 

Do you agree that there is a "right" way to discuss and give attention to suicide? Do you agree with the ways put forth in the article, or would you add or take away something? 


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