Suicide and media reporting: A longitudinal and spatial analysis

Albert C. Yang, Shih Jen Tsai, Cheng Hung Yang, Ben-Chang Shia, Jong Ling Fuh, Shuu Jiun Wang, Chung Kang Peng, Norden E. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The impact of media reporting on copycat suicides has been well established in various cases of celebrity suicide. However, knowledge is limited about the spatial and temporal relationship between suicide death and media reporting over a long period of time. This study investigated the association of suicide deaths with suicide news in longitudinal and spatial dimensions. Methods: All suicides during 2003-2010 (n = 31,364) were included. Suicide news in the study period was retrieved from Google News, and included all available news media in Taiwan. Empirical mode decomposition was used to identify the main intrinsic oscillation, reflecting both major and minor suicide events, and time-dependent intrinsic correlation was used to quantify the temporal correlation between suicide deaths and suicide news. Results: The media reporting of suicide was synchronized with increased suicide deaths during major suicide events such as celebrity death, and slightly lagged behind the suicide deaths for 1 month in other periods without notable celebrity deaths. The means of suicide reported in the media diversely affected the suicide models. Reports of charcoal burning suicide exhibited an exclusive copycat effect on actual charcoal burning deaths, whereas media reports of jumping had a wide association with various suicide models. Media reports of suicide had a higher association with suicide deaths in urban than in rural areas. Conclusions: This report suggested that a delayed effect of copycat suicide may exist in media reports of minor suicide events. The competitive reporting of minor suicide events must be avoided and addressed by media professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-435
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Completed suicide
  • Empirical mode decomposition
  • Media
  • Time series analysis
  • Time-dependent intrinsic correlation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology

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  • Cite this

    Yang, A. C., Tsai, S. J., Yang, C. H., Shia, B-C., Fuh, J. L., Wang, S. J., Peng, C. K., & Huang, N. E. (2013). Suicide and media reporting: A longitudinal and spatial analysis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(3), 427-435. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-012-0562-1