IASP Special Interest Group - Suicide and the Media
IASP Special Interest Group on Suicide and the Media
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.
The Task Force has the following goals:
- 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; and
- 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.
Activity report for the period September 2011 to September 2013
- We further expanded the ‘virtual network’ of individuals and organisations with an interest in suicide and the media, and were joined by new Task Force members from Estonia and the US.
- We completed a large meta-analysis of the impact of celebrity suicide reporting on suicide rates – Niederkrotenthaler T, Fu KW, Yip P, Fong DYT, Stack S, Cheng Q, Pirkis J. Changes in suicide rates following media reports on celebrity suicides: a meta-analysis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2012;66:1037-1042. DOI:10.1136/jech-2011-200707.
- We contributed to the development of new US media guidelines for the reporting on suicide (see http://reportingonsuicide.org).
- We organized two symposia on suicide and the media at IASP congresses in Beijing and Oslo and one at the ESSSB congress in Tel Aviv (Karl Andriessen and Karolina Krysinska).
- We organized working meetings for IASP congresses Beijing and in Oslo.
- We participated in a symposium in Stockholm entitled ‘Media and Suicide, An Interdisciplinary and Global Perspective’ in April 2013 (see msig.jmk.su.se/conferences/2-msig/about#.UjAs-TrmRaQ). The symposium was organized by Michael Westerlund from the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University, and members of our Task Force were invited to present at it (Madelyn Gould, Paul Yip, Karl Andriessen, Karolina Krysinska, Jane Pirkis, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler).
- We assisted local stakeholders in several countries (Switzerland, Germany) in an effort to develop revised media guidelines based on IASP/WHO, and to develop a review on the current use of media guidelines. • We expanded the focus of the Task Force to include the internet, as indicated by an Editorial in Crisis, 2012, and a symposium on ‘new/online media’ in Oslo 2013.
- We organized an AAS symposium on suicide and the media in April 2012 (Jane Pirkis, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and Christian Kunran).
- We endorsed a British initiative “U Can Cope” by Alys-Cole King and colleagues for WSPD 2012 (see southwickmedia.co.uk/cope-multi-agency-drive-spread-message-hope) (Ella Arensman, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler).
- Ongoing efforts with respect to many of the above activities;
- Hosting symposia/workshops at future conferences;
- Holding meetings at each of these conferences;
- Development of an IASP statement on suicide and the media which distinguishes the international focus of the Task Force from national efforts of within-country organisations;
- Strengthening the focus of the Task Force on newer media, such as the Internet, with a focus on recommendations for best practices on online media;
- Providing input regarding the next generation of online technology and suicide prevention activities and best online practices; and
- Strengthening of the existing network by collaborative scientific projects in relation to traditional and online media.
An additional TF was established and members recruited to also begin work in January (2016) to develop guidelines and recommendations for online bloggers and citizen journalists. A third initiative was undertaken to create a new website for the internationally used Recommendations for Media Reporting on Suicide (can be found at www.reportingonsuicide.org). A template was created to be used for other countries to adapt the Recommendations into their native language and currently the site hosts English, French, German and Spanish versions. Anyone interested in translating the Recommendations into another language and having it placed on this site can contact me directly for the template. Dr. Niederkrotenthaler and I plan to work with the IASP office and WHO representatives for linking the WHO Recommendations and the updated website for journalists around the world.
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
Dr. Dan Reidenberg, MD
SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
IASP – US Representative
8120 Penn Ave South, Suite 470