Suicide reporting within British newspapers’ arts coverage: Content analysis of adherence to media guidelines.
Pitman, A.~~Stevenson, F.~~~
Many suicide prevention strategies promote media guidelines on suicide reporting, given evidence that irresponsible reporting of suicide can influence imitative suicidal behavior. Due to limited resources, monitoring of guideline adherence has tended to focus on news outputs, with a risk of neglecting other journalistic content. Aims: To determine whether British newspapersÕ arts coverage adheres to media guidelines on suicide reporting. Method: Purposive sampling was used to capture current national practice on suicide reporting within newspapersÕ arts coverage of exhibitions. Recent major UK exhibitions by artists who had died by suicide were identified: Kirchner, Rothko, Gorky, and Van Gogh. Content analysis of all UK national newspaper coverage of these exhibitions was performed to measure the articlesÕ adherence to widely accepted media guidelines. Results: In all, 68 newspaper reviews satisfied inclusion criteria, with 100% failing to show full adherence to media guidelines: 21% used inappropriate language; 38% provided explicit descriptions of the suicide; 7% employed simplistic explanations for suicide triggers; 27% romanticized the suicide; and 100% omitted information on sources of support. Conclusion: British newspapersÕ arts coverage of exhibitions deviates considerably from media guidelines on the reporting of suicide. The findings suggest scope to improve journalistsÕ awareness of the importance of this component of suicide prevention strategies.