IASP Special Interest Group - Suicide and the Media
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.
Recent and Upcoming Activities
In 2016 we undertook and planned many new and exciting initiatives outlined below:
- Hosting symposia/workshops/meetings at future conferences.
- Finalization of a book with contributions from SIG members on Media and Suicide: International Perspectives on Research, Theory and Policy.
- IASP statement on suicide and the media which distinguishes the international focus of the SIG from national efforts of within-country organisations.
- Task Force IASP / WHO Recommendations for Media Reporting, 2017 will assist in the updating of the IASP /WHO media recommendations (2008).
- Strengthening the focus of the SIG on newer media, such as the Internet, with a focus on recommendations for best practices on online media. This will involve developing guidelines and recommendations for online bloggers and citizen journalists.
-Release of Social Media guidelines
-Release of Blogger guidelines
- Provided input regarding the next generation of online technology and suicide prevention activities and best online practices.
- Strengthened the existing network by collaborative scientific projects in relation to traditional and online 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.
Co-Chairs and Contact Details
The Task Force is co-chaired by Thomas Niederkrotenthaler from Austria, and Dan Reidenberg from the USA. Interested parties can contact Thomas or Dan directly:
Associate Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler
Center for Public Health, Department of General Practice and Family Medicine
Medical University of Vienna
Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1090
Ph: +43 1 40160 34611
Fax:+43 1 40160 9656
Thomas Niederkrotenthaler graduated as a medical doctor in 2007 and as a Ph.D. in Mental Health & Behavioral Medicine in 2010 (with distinction; both at Medical University of Vienna). He then graduated as Master in Suicide Prevention/ Public Health Sciences (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm). From 2011–2012 Thomas served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with focus areas on injury, suicide and violence prevention. Since 2013, he is an Associate Professor at the Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna. Since 2014, he is the head of the Suicide Research Unit at the Center for Public Health.
Thomas Niederkrotenthaler has been affiliated/associated with Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm / Division of Insurance Medicine since 2007, and has worked as an independent contractor for the Lifeline Crisis chat evaluation, United States since 2015.
In his role as the founding chairman of the interdisciplinary network of suicide researches in Austria (Wiener Werkstätte for Suicide Research, www.suizidforschung.at) Thomas has been awarded with the Erwin Ringel Award (Austrian Society for Suicide Prevention ÖGS) and Hans Rost Award (German Association for Suicide Prevention), for the description of a suicide-protective Papageno effect.
Prof Niederkrotenthaler has been the co-chair of IASP's Media & Suicide Task Force for several years. In that role, Thomas has collaborated on several important research and prevention projects with TF /SIG members.
In his role as the co-chair of the Council of National Representatives Thomas wants to enhance communication about how to make IASP’s services more attractive for old and new members and help implement services that work towards this goal.
Dr. Dan Reidenberg, MD
SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
IASP – US Representative
8120 Penn Ave South, Suite 470
Dr. Dan Reidenberg is Executive Director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, Managing Director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention and the US Representative to the IASP. He serves as Co-Chair of the IASP Media and Suicide Task Force, Chair of the American Psychotherapy Association Advisory Board and Chair of the Certified Relationship Specialists Board. He serves on the editorial advisory boards for The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, American College of Forensic Examiners, Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Medicine and Esperanza magazine and is a proposal reviewer for SAMHSA and the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Dr. Reidenberg is an internationally sought after speaker and sits on numerous expert panels with over 50 published articles including Suicide Prevention for Essential Evidence and the chapter on suicide in Adolescent Health. He developed one of only 3 evidence-based programs for schools listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs; several Best Practice materials; and he led a team that included senior leadership from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Twitter, Microsoft, Wordpress, Tumblr in developing the next generation of suicide prevention technology for the online industry.
Dr. Reidenberg has been interviewed by numerous major media sources from around the world and is on faculty of the Poytner Institute training journalists. He led the development of the Recommendations for Media Reporting on Suicide and helped develop the Media Recommendations on Bullying. He also led the workgroup on Warning Signs for Suicide and helped develop the US National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and the National Research Agenda.
He was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans, received the B. Warren Hart Award for Service to Humanity, Nonprofit Professional of the Year, Healthy Mind/Healthy Body Award, 2013 and 2014 Best Doctor’s Award and was recognized as a “Champion of Change” at The White House by the Obama Administration.