Background Media stories on suicide can increase suicidal ideation, but little is known about variations in media effects with regard to audience vulnerability and story contents. Aims We investigated the impact of three drama films with suicidal content that varied with regard to the final outcome (suicide completion, mastery of crisis and death by natural causes) and tested the moderating effect of baseline suicidality of the participants on the effects. The effects of suicide-related media material seem to vary with individual vulnerability and with type of media portrayal. Individuals with lower vulnerability experience more emotional reactions when exposed to a film culminating in suicide, but individuals with higher vulnerability experience a rise in suicidal tendencies particularly if they identify with the protagonist who died by suicide. In contrast, portrayals of individual mastery of crisis may have beneficial effects in more vulnerable individuals.
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