Research has shown a link between certain kinds of publicity about suicide, and increases in deaths by suicide—known as suicide contagion. Suicide contagion occurs in about five percent of deaths by suicide, but since the recent media publicity I thought a small refresher course on contagion may be necessary. Suicide contagion is not an “epidemic” and generally occurs among people who are already depressed and contemplating suicide.
Contagion may occur when:
• The number of media stories about individual suicides increases.
• An individual death is reported in detail across many stories.
• Coverage of a suicide death is a cover story or at the top of a newscast.
• The headlines about specific suicide deaths are framed dramatically (e.g.,“Bullied Gay Teen Commits Suicide by Hanging”)
Research also shows that risk of suicide contagion can be reduced when media report on suicide in a responsible way. To learn how to prevent contagion see “How to Safely Talk About Suicide”
Adapted from Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations which is based on empirically-derived best practices for discussing suicide safely and responsibly and supported by:
The Trevor Project Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)