Responsible journalism, imitative suicide, and transgender populations: A systematic review of UK newspapers
Bolzern, J.E., Mnyama, N.L., & McMillan, D.
Purpose: The risk of suicide is high in the transgender population. Imitative suicide occurs when excess suicidal behavior is observed following news media coverage of suicide. The purpose of this study is to evaluate how often UK newspapers adhere to suicide reporting guidelines designed to minimize imitative suicide when they report the suicides of transgender individuals. Methods: A newspaper archive was searched for articles about the suicides of transgender people published between 2007 and 2017. Two reviewers applied a checklist of responsible reporting practices to assess adherence to guidelines. Results: There were 79 articles meeting inclusion criteria. The mean number of guideline breaches was 3.9 (of a maximum 10), with the most commonly breached guidelines an inappropriate headline (70.9%) and failure to provide sources of support (60.8%). Every article breached at least one guideline. There was not a significant difference between the different newspapers in mean number of guideline breaches (p = 0.24). Conclusion: There is generally poor adherence to responsible reporting guidelines in UK newspapers when reporting the suicides of transgender people.