Have news reports on suicide and attempted suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic adhered to guidance on safer reporting? A UK-wide content analysis study

Marzano, Lisa ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9735-3512, Hawley, Monica, Fraser, Lorna, Harris-Skillma, Eva, Lainez, Yasmine and Hawton, Keith ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4985-5715 (2022) Have news reports on suicide and attempted suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic adhered to guidance on safer reporting? A UK-wide content analysis study. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention . ISSN 0227-5910 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1027/0227-5910/a000856)

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Abstract

Background: Associations between sensational news coverage of suicide and increases in suicidal behaviour have been well documented. Amidst growing concern over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates, it is especially important that news coverage adheres to recommended standards.

Methods: We analysed the quality and content of print and online UK news reports of possible COVID-19 related suicides and suicide attempts in the first four months of the pandemic (N=285).

Results: Most reports made explicit links between suicidal behaviour and the COVID-19 pandemic in the headline (65.5%), based on statements by family, friends or acquaintances of the deceased (60%). The impact of the pandemic on suicidal behaviour was most often attributed to feelings of isolation (27.4%), poor mental health (14.7%) and entrapment due to government-imposed restrictions (14.4%). Although rarely of poor overall quality, reporting was biased towards young people, frontline staff and relatively unusual suicides and, to varying degrees, failed to meet recommended standards (e.g. 41.1% did not signpost readers to sources of support).

Limitations: This analysis cannot account for the impact of reporting on suicide.

Conclusions: Careful attention must be paid to the quality and content of reports, especially as longer-term consequences of the pandemic develop.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 34316
Notes on copyright: This version of the article may not completely replicate the final authoritative version published in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention at https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000856. It is not the version of record and is therefore not suitable for citation. Please do not copy or cite without the permission of the author(s).
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Depositing User: Lisa Marzano
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2022 09:15
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2022 22:28
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/34316

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