Year: 2023 Source: Indian Journal of Psychiatry. (2023). 65(5), 579-585. DOI: 10.4103/indianjpsychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_537_22 SIEC No: 20231300
Context: Despite an increase in research evidence on media compliance with suicide reporting guidelines globally, evidence from Nigeria seems to be relatively limited. Aim: This study assessed the prevalence of World Health Organization (WHO) helpful/harmful suicide reporting cues in suicide stories reported by Nigerian newspapers in 2021. Setting and Design: The setting is the entire Nigeria and the design is descriptive. Method: Quantitative content analysis method was adopted and 205 online suicide-related stories from news portals of 10 purposefully selected newspapers were analyzed. The newspapers selected were among the top 20 in Nigeria and had higher circulation/coverage and considerable online presence. Evaluation framework was designed following moderated WHO guidelines. Statistical Analysis Used: Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) were used for the analysis. Results: The study suggested high prevalence of harmful reporting and near absence of helpful suicide reporting cues among Nigerian newspapers. Majority of the stories, 95.6% mentioned suicide in the headline; 79.5% provided details on the suicide methods employed; 66.3% offered mono-causal explanation to suicide; and 59% featured images of suicide victims and/or suicide-related graphics. Helpful reporting cues were almost nonexistence as only less than 4% of the stories traced warning signs, reported mental health experts/professionals’ opinions, featured research findings/population level statistics, and provided details on the identity/contact of suicide prevention programs/support services. Conclusion: Prevalence of harmful suicide-reporting practice among Nigerian Newspaper presented a gloomy future for suicide prevention in the country. There be training and motivation programs for health/crime reporters/editors on responsive media coverage of suicide following (a domesticated) WHO guidelines.