Reporting of suicide and trespass incidents by online media in the US

To read full report: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/12424

Scott H. Gabree, Ph.D. and Bianka Mejia. (2017). The Reporting of Suicide and Trespass Incidents by Online Media in the United States. Final Report. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration. Available online: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/12424

Abstract: The reporting of a suicide death in the media has the potential to increase imitative suicide attempts for vulnerable individuals who read the article, a phenomenon known as suicide contagion or the “Werther effect.” Organizations around the world have developed recommendations forhow to responsibly report on suicide incidents in a wayless likely to result in contagion. For this research, 1,173 articles on FRA-reported suicide and trespass incidents were collected and analyzed for content.While media outlets often followed many of the suicide reporting recommendations, none were consistently followed in every article analyzedand a few key recommendations were often never applied. For example, the term “suicide” wasoften included in the title of articles, details about the location where the suicide took place andthe actions preceding impact were often provided, while help-seeking information was only rarely included. In general, railway suicide incidents tended tobe reported in a similar way to trespass incidents, rather than as a suicide by another means. The development of railway-specificrecommendations couldhelp to encourage responsiblereporting practices regardingrailway trespass and suicide incidents.