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#2 - Suicide et MÉDIA - 8 août 2011

Suite au suicide d’une célébrité ou d’un homicide-suicide, la façon dont la couverture médiatique sera effectuée aura un impact sur la population en général. Les effets possibles de contagion ou d’imitation (effet Werther) ont poussé plusieurs organisations à produire des lignes directrices en matière de traitement médiatique de ces évènements. L’Association internationale pour la prévention du suicide a mis en sur pied un groupe d’experts sur le sujet. Sur leur site web, vous trouverez plusieurs de ces documents (http://www.iasp.info/fr/suicide_and_the_media.php). Au Canada, l’Association canadienne de prévention du suicide a développé ses lignes directrices, et récemment, l’Association des psychiatres du Canada (http://publications.cpa-apc.org/media.php?mid=735) publiait les siennes. Voici donc ce qu’il y a de nouveau au centre de documentation du CRISE sur le sujet. Un nouvel article des membres du CRISE, Louise Pouliot, Brian Mishara et Réal Labelle, qui ont étudié l’influence de scènes de films contenant un acte suicidaire sur un groupe d’étudiants. En 2010, Dr Pouliot et le professeur Michel Tousignant avait effectué une large recension des écrits sur les suicides en série en y abordant la question de l’impact des médias. Le professeur Tousignant avait également mené une étude sur le sujet suite au décès par suicide d’un journaliste québécois.

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Pouliot, L., Mishara, B. L., & Labelle, R. (2011). The Werther effect reconsidered in light of psychological vulnerabilities: Results of a pilot study. Journal of Affective Disorders, [Epub].
Résumé: Findings from three decades of epidemiological studies suggest that media diffusion of stories about suicide is related to increases in suicidal behaviours in the population exposed to the media reports. However, we still know little about the psychological processes and personal vulnerabilities that prompt some people to engage in suicidal behaviours after exposure to media presentations of suicides. This cross-sectional study explored the possible impact of exposure to film suicide in normal young people. METHODS: Undergraduates from a university (mean age 23years) completed a questionnaire on exposure to suicide portrayal in fictional films, in which assessment of negative emotional and cognitive reactions resulting from exposure, as well as emotional reactivity, dissociation, thought suppression, and suicidal tendencies were made. RESULTS: Of the 101 participants, 70% reported being distressed by the portrayal of a suicide in a fictional film. Among those, 33% stated they felt distressed about the portrayal for several days to several weeks. The majority of the affected participants (71%) indicated having been mentally preoccupied for some time by the portrayal and experienced intrusive memories (68%). Emotional reactivity and dissociation tendencies were significant predictors of the negative reactions to the suicide film they viewed. Participants who reported that the idea had crossed their mind to imitate the suicidal protagonist in the film were 3.45 times more likely to be suicidal and tended to present higher dissociation and thought suppression propensities compared to those who did not report these thoughts. LIMITATIONS: The results showing possible influences of suicide portrayal in fictional film on suicide related cognitions were based on a survey methodology. CONCLUSION: Results suggest that fictional suicide portrayals in the media may have a deleterious impact on viewers, and such impacts do not appear to be limited to people having a clinical profile of mental disorders, as previously assumed by researchers in the field.

Chen, Y. Y., Chen, F., & Yip, P. S. (2010). The impact of media reporting of suicide on actual suicides in Taiwan, 2002-05. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, [epub].
Résumé: Objectives: To assess changes in the intensity of suicide news reporting in Taiwan's local newspapers after the arrival of a daily tabloid-type newspaper, Apple Daily (AD), and evaluate the impact of suicide news reporting on actual suicides and possible mutual causation. Methods: A counting process was used to estimate the intensity of daily suicide news items reported in the China Times (CT) and United Daily (UD) before and after the arrival of AD (2002-05). Poisson regression models were used to assess the impact of the intensity of suicide news reporting on the actual number of next day suicides. Granger's causation model was used to assess mutual causation between suicide news reporting and actual suicides. Results: There was a significant increase in reporting intensity of suicide news in the UD soon after the entry of the AD into Taiwan's media market, while a delayed increase of approximately 1 year was observed in the CT. After the arrival of the AD, the reporting intensity in the UD was significantly related to the occurrence of actual suicides , even after controlling for social variables, whereas no significant correlation was previously observed. Mutual causation between suicide news reporting and actual suicides was also observed. Conclusions: The presence of the AD in Taiwan has fuelled competitive reporting of suicide news among traditional newspapers. This increase in the intensity of suicide news reporting has consequently had an impact on the actual number of suicides. This provides further empirical support for improving media reporting as a key element in suicide prevention.

Chen, Y. Y., Liao, S. F., Teng, P. R., Tsai, C. W., Fan, H. F., Lee, W. C., et al.
(2010). The impact of media reporting of the suicide of a singer on suicide rates in Taiwan. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, [epub].
Résumé: Purpose: To examine if widespread media reporting of the suicide of a young female singer by charcoal burning increased suicide rates, and to examine whether the suicide induced a high risk of imitation suicide by this method among the young female group. METHODS: Poisson time series autoregression model was applied to examine the relative risk of overall and subgroup (age, gender and method) suicides during the 2-week period after the initiation of media reporting of the celebrity suicide. RESULTS: We found a significant increase in suicide deaths following media reporting of the celebrity suicide. The increase in suicides was particularly significant among female and young age groups. A marked increase in suicide by charcoal burning among females was further observed. CONCLUSIONS: Detailed description of a specific suicide method following celebrity suicides may induce extensive modeling effect, attracting wider age/sex groups to model the method. Our finding provides further support for restraining media reporting of celebrity suicide in suicide prevention.

Collings, S. C., & Kemp, C. G. (2010). Death knocks, professional practice, and the public good: The media experience of suicide reporting in New Zealand. Social Science and Medicine, 71(2), 244-248.
Résumé: Health, government, and media organizations around the world have responded to research demonstrating the imitative effects of suicide coverage in the news media by developing guidelines to foster responsible reporting. Implementation of these guidelines has encountered some resistance, and little is known about the media perspective on suicide coverage and its effects on guideline use. This qualitative study provides an in-depth appreciation of this perspective by investigating the experiences of journalists covering suicide in New Zealand. Fifteen newspaper, television and radio journalists were interviewed between December 2008 and March 2009 and transcripts were analyzed using a grounded hermeneutic editing approach. Five themes were identified: public responsibility, media framing of suicide, professional practice, personal experience of suicide reporting, and restricted reporting. Participants asserted the role of the media in the protection of the public good. Though this stance aligns them with the goals of health policymakers, it is derived from a set of professional mores at odds with the perceived paternalism of suicide reporting guidelines. Participants were stakeholders in the issue of suicide coverage. We conclude that policymakers must engage with the news media and acknowledge the competing imperatives that provide the context for the application of suicide reporting guidelines by individual journalists. Collaborative guideline development will be vital to effective implementation.

Dare, A. J., Andriessen, K. A., Nordentoft, M., Meier, M., Huisman, A., & Pirkis, J. E. (2011). Media awards for responsible reporting of suicide: Experiences from Australia, Belgium and Denmark. Internation Journal of Mental Health Systems, 5, 15.
Résumé: ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Media awards to encourage responsible reporting of suicide have been introduced in several countries, including Australia, Belgium and Denmark. AIMS: This study aimed to examine the experiences of Australian, Belgian and Danish award recipients in preparing stories on suicide, and consider the impacts of the awards for these recipients and for media professionals more broadly. METHOD: We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with the majority (14 out of 15) of past recipients of the awards in the three countries of interest. RESULTS: Media awards appear to show promise as a method of reinforcing national and international media guidelines on reporting suicide. The recipients of awards were proud to have had their achievements recognized in this way, and had developed a heightened awareness of the issues inherent in reporting suicide. Although relatively few had prepared subsequent stories on suicide, a number had been given opportunities to provide advice to other media professionals about how best to approach this sensitive topic. Recipients viewed the awards as an important means by which good quality reporting can be rewarded, and a springboard for raising community awareness about suicide. CONCLUSION: The experience from Australia, Belgium and Denmark suggests that media awards which recognize responsible reporting of suicide are extremely worthwhile.

Jeong, J., Shin, S. D., Kim, H., Hong, Y. C., Hwang, S. S., & Lee, E. J. (2011). The effects of celebrity suicide on copycat suicide attempt: a multi-center observational study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology [Epub].
Résumé: BACKGROUND: The effect of celebrity suicides on copycat suicide attempts is not well known. Our objective was to determine the association between celebrity suicide and copycat suicide attempts. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective multicenter observational time series analysis. Celebrity suicides were selected by an operational definition via three nationwide television news internet sites from January 2005 to December 2008. The reference week was defined as the week preceding date of suicide notification to the public. Then two pre-event weeks and four post-event weeks were analyzed for suicide attempts. We derived a prediction model for suicide attempt visits for each ED for these seven observational weeks using a General Additive Model with data from the National Emergency Department Information System (NEDIS) database. We calculated the mean excess visit (EV = observed visit - expected visit) and mean excess visit ratio (EVR = EV/expected visit). We tested the mean EV and EVR between reference weeks versus the observational weeks using independent t test and repeated measures ANOVA. RESULTS: Five celebrity suicides occurred during the study period. Total number of ED visits was 5,453,441 in the 85 EDs over the 4-year period, and suicide attempt or self-injury occurred in 27,605. The mean excess visit for each observational interval per ED was less than 0.1 during pre-event periods but increased to 0.695 in the second post-event week. EVs were significantly higher in the first to the third post-event weeks compared to reference week. The mean EVRs were significantly higher in the second post-week intervals compared with the reference week . Mean EVs and mean EVRs showed significant increase in the post event period compared with the observational period . CONCLUSION: From a prediction model using a 4-year nationwide ED database, ED visits for suicide attempts or self injury increased following the announcements of celebrity suicides.

Hamilton, S., Metcalfe, C., & Gunnell, D. (2011). Media reporting and suicide: a time-series study of suicide from Clifton Suspension Bridge, UK, 1974-2007. Journal of Public Health.
Résumé: BACKGROUND: Media reports of suicide may provoke further 'copy-cat' suicides. Trends in reporting quality and impact of reporting on suicides from a particular 'hot-spot' have not been investigated previously. METHODS: Inquest files and death certificates were used to identify suicides from Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, UK, 1974-2007. Copies of local newspaper and television reports within 3 days of death or inquest were obtained. Parametric survival models were used to examine the impact of media reports on subsequent suicides. RESULTS: Over 34 years, there were 206 suicides and 427 media reports of suicide from the bridge. The number of reports per suicide has declined markedly from 2.8 per suicide in the 1970s to 0.7 per suicide in the 2000s . While some aspects of reporting improved, others deteriorated or remained poorly reported. There has been an increase in sensational reporting (use of images was 5% in the 1970s and 16% in the 2000s) and in information about the suicide method. There was no evidence that media reports provoked further suicides. CONCLUSIONS: Media reporting of suicide from Clifton Suspension Bridge declined over the study period; however, most aspects of the quality of reporting remained poor. There was no evidence of media reports provoking further suicides.

Niederkrotenthaler, T., Voracek, M., Herberth, A., Till, B., Strauss, M., Etzersdorfer, E., et al. (2010). Role of media reports in completed and prevented suicide: Werther v. Papageno effects. British Journal of Psychiatry, 197(3), 234-243.
Résumé: BACKGROUND: Media reporting of suicide has repeatedly been shown to trigger suicidal behaviour. Few studies have investigated the associations between specific media content and suicide rates. Even less is known about the possible preventive effects of suicide-related media content. AIMS: To test the hypotheses that certain media content is associated with an increase in suicide, suggesting a so-called Werther effect, and that other content is associated with a decrease in suicide, conceptualised as a Papageno effect. Further, to identify classes of media articles with similar reporting profiles and to test for associations between these classes and suicide. METHOD: Content analysis and latent class analysis (LCA) of 497 suicide-related print media reports published in Austria between 1 January and 30 June 2005. Ecological study to identify associations between media item content and short-term changes in suicide rates. RESULTS: Repetitive reporting of the same suicide and the reporting of suicide myths were positively associated with suicide rates. Coverage of individual suicidal ideation not accompanied by suicidal behaviour was negatively associated with suicide rates. The LCA yielded four classes of media reports, of which the mastery of crisis class (articles on individuals who adopted coping strategies other than suicidal behaviour in adverse circumstances) was negatively associated with suicide, whereas the expert opinion class and the epidemiological facts class were positively associated with suicide. CONCLUSIONS: The impact of suicide reporting may not be restricted to harmful effects; rather, coverage of positive coping in adverse circumstances, as covered in media items about suicidal ideation, may have protective effects.

Pirkis, J., Dare, A., Blood, R. W., Rankin, B., Williamson, M., Burgess, P., et al. (2009). Changes in media reporting of suicide in Australia between 2000/01 and 2006/07. Crisis, 30(1), 25-33.
Résumé: Aims. To evaluate changes in Australian news media reporting of suicide between 2000/01 and 2006/07 against recommendations in the resource Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness. Methods. Newspaper, television, and radio items on suicide were retrieved over two 12-month periods pre- and post-introduction of Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness. Identifying and descriptive information were extracted for each item. Quality ratings were made for a stratified random sample of items, using criteria from the precursor to Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness. Results and Conclusions. There was almost a two-fold increase in reporting of suicide during the study period, with 4,813 and 8,363 items retrieved in 2000/01 and 2006/07, respectively. The nature of media reporting showed some variability, with an increased emphasis on items about individuals' experiences and a reduced emphasis on policy and program initiatives. Most strikingly, there was significant improvement on almost all individual dimensions of quality and overall quality. These findings are positive, although there are still clearly some opportunities for improving the way in which the media report and portray suicide. In order to improve standards, continued support should be provided for the dissemination and evaluation of Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness.

Queinec, R., Beitz, C., Contrand, B., Jougla, E., Leffondré, K., Lagarde, E., et al.
(2011). Copycat effect after celebrity suicides: Results from the French national death register. Psychological Medicine, 41(3), 668-671.
Résumé: Media coverage following the suicide of an anonymous person or a celebrity has been described to entail a significant increase in the number of suicides. Our objective was to study the suicide copycat effect following the most famous celebrity suicides in France between 1979 and 2006. A total of 314493 suicides were recorded, with a mean number per month of 936. The sex ratio was 2.6 men for every one woman and 51 % were aged from 30 to 59 years. The most common methods were hanging, strangulation or suffocation (39.4%) and firearms or explosives (21.3%). No increase in suicides was found after the deaths of the seven celebrities who were selected as controls, except after Coluche's death in the 15-24 and 60-74 years subgroups. We also found that, in most cases, the official guidelines relating to reporting of suicides in the media were not followed. The style was emotive, the victim glorified, and the reasons for the suicide often oversimplified. The celebrity lists were drawn from Wikipedia, as it proved to present the most complete and exhaustive lists available. However, the selected celebrities committed suicide between 1982 and 1995 and our criteria did not lead to the selection of the most recent suicides.

Queinec, R. (2011). Effet Werther et contagiosité suicidaire. La Revue du praticien, 61(2), 176-177.
Résumé: Bref survol du phénomène de la contagion par les médias et description de l'effet de Werther selon Stack.


Tatum, P. T., Canetto, S. S., & Slater, M. D. (2010). Suicide coverage in U.S. newspapers following the publication of the media guidelines. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 40(5), 524-534.
Résumé: A nationally representative sample of 968 local and national newspapers was examined to determine whether the 2001 U.S. media guidelines were followed in articles published in 2002-2003, and featuring individual cases of suicidal behavior (N= 157). We found that, during this period of time, U.S. newspaper suicide coverage did not consistently reflect the influence of the media guidelines. On the positive side, only 19% of stories included inappropriate imagery. On the negative side, suicide stories often detailed suicide method (56% of stories) and location (58%), and rarely provided information about warning signs and risk factors (1%), the roles of depression (4%) and alcohol (2%), and prevention resources (6%). Our findings, together with previous evidence, suggest the need for sustained dialogue with the media about suicide reporting.

Till, B., Niederkrotenthaler, T., Herberth, A., Vitouch, P., & Sonneck, G. (2010). Suicide in films: the impact of suicide portrayals on nonsuicidal viewers' well-being and the effectiveness of censorship. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 40(4), 319-327.
Résumé: The effects of suicide films on recipients' emotional and mental state, as well as the influence of censorship, was studied. Nonsuicidal subjects watched the original or a censored version of a suicide film or a drama without suicide. Data were collected by questionnaires. The viewing led to a deterioration of mood and an increase in inner tension and depression scores, but also to a rise in self-esteem and life satisfaction and to a drop in suicidality. There were no relevant differences between the film groups. The more a subject identified with the protagonist, the greater were the negative effects.


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Les opinions exprimées dans ces documents sont celles des auteurs et elles ne représentent pas nécessairement celles des membres du CRISE. Ces titres sont fournis à titre informatif seulement et cette liste ne se veut pas être exhaustive. Le CRISE ne se tient aucunement responsable de l'utilisation de l'information contenue à l'intérieur de ces documents.

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