Media-related suicide contagion sometimes referred to as "Werther effect" or copycat behaviour, is a significant public health problem. In recent years, most countries which have developed national suicide prevention strategies have included the development of guidelines that have attempted to promote accurate, responsible and ethical reporting of suicide in the media. These guidelines have arisen from a substantial body of evidence that suggests that incautious media reporting and portrayal of suicide has the potential to encourage imitative behaviour among vulnerable individuals. They are designed to promote responsible reporting of suicide, but have sometimes been misinterpreted by media professionals as promoting censorship. Such misunderstandings about these media guidelines have led to reluctance among many journalists to adopt them. There is a need for improved collaboration with media professionals to reach a consensus on this issue. The IASP Suicide and the Media Task Force is taking up this challenge.
- To improve linkages between suicide experts and media professionals.
- To systematically review research about suicide and the traditional as well as social media (including evaluations of media guidelines), to identify gaps in knowledge, to develop a research agenda to address these gaps, and to encourage relevant research.
- To identify, collect and collate media guidelines which have been developed around the world, and examine and report on their content, development and implementation.
- To work collaboratively with media professionals to develop recommendations for developing and implementing media guidelines.
- To work collaboratively with media professionals to promote media guidelines to journalists, editors and other stakeholders.
- To work on prevention of suicide using online media.
- To provide an international body of experts that can provide authoritative comment on issues regarding suicide and the media, including issues surrounding media guidelines and both traditional and newer “emergent” media.
We are looking for people who are interested in working with us to progress this very important work. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact the SIG Co-Chairs.