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Suicide and Media

by: kaswimmer

Suicide and Media CDAE 127

GPA 3.3

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About this Document

iclicker answer included. Topics include the wether effect and social learning theory as well as behavioral ideas.
Consumer Policy
Sun Tao
Class Notes
media marketing suicide negative-effects
25 ?




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This 25 page Class Notes was uploaded by kaswimmer on Wednesday March 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CDAE 127 at University of Vermont taught by Sun Tao in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Consumer Policy in Business at University of Vermont.


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Date Created: 03/30/16
iClicker Exercise What is the effect of covering suicides in the media? a. It will lead to a cluster of suicides. b. It will deter others from committing suicides th list of top countries with This is much too much of an effect from media. Thesuicide should have been more relevant factors such as family and SES. Media coverage of suicide promotes the number of suicides committed in that area. At UVM Behavioral instincts Behavioral Contagion In one high school, there were a • Obesity Contagion group of girls who got pregnant together. Framingham study was started in the 50s and they • Pregnancy cluster in Mass. collected info on their patients (weight, obesity levels) and tried to establish a relationship between friends and found that Worlds largest electronic manufacture. In obesity could considered a trend and can spread… their 2010, 18 attempted suicides resulted in 14 behavior influences our own deaths. This may have led to more suicide behaviors in the area. They can pinpoint neighborhoods that suicide are more likely to occur due to past trends. Areas are concentrated to certain neighborhoods. Suicide Contagion There is ample evidence from the literature on suicide clusters and the impact of the media to support the contention that suicide is “contagious.” Suicide contagion can be viewed within the larger context of behavioral contagion, which has been described as a situation in which the same behavior spreads quickly and spontaneously through a group (Gould, 1990). It is contagious and your environment plays a huge role. Clustering of Suicides Several of these have reported significant clustering of suicides, defined by temporal-spatial factors, among teenagers and young adults (Brent et al., 1989; Gould, Petrie, Kleinman, & Wallenstein, 1994; Gould, Wallenstein, & Kleinman, 1990; Gould, Wallenstein, Kleinman, O’Carroll, & Mercy, 1990), with only minimal effects beyond 24 years of age (Gould, Wallenstein, & Kleinman, 1990; Gould, Wallenstein, Kleinman, O’Carroll, et al., 1990). Younger adults are more affected by the medias influence on suicide Priming Priming is the implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences response to a subsequent stimulus. Something that gets you thinking about that stimuli and makes that stimuli familiar Priming the mass media, ideas having a similar meaninga are activated in them for a short time afterwards, and …these thoughts in turn can activate other semantically related ideas and action tendencies” (p. 45, Jo and Berkowitz, 1994). So many “folders” in your brain and this starts a “suicide” folder that more thoughts can get saved into it Social Learning Theory Social learning theory is another paradigm through which suicide contagion may be understood. According to this theory, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling (Bandura, 1977). passively seeing what those around you do in situations and mimicking them Behavioral contagion Werther Effect The occurrence of imitative suicides following media stories is largely known as the “Werther effect,” derived from the impression that Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774 triggered an increase in suicides, leading to its ban in many European states. Based on a fictional character from a book, people commited suicide after reading this novel in Germany as Werther Effect Research on the “Werther effect” was advanced by the systematic work of Phillips (Bollen & Phillips, 1981, 1982; Phillips, 1974, 1979; Phillips & Carstensen, 1986, 1988), whose research consistently found a strong relationship between reports of suicide in newspapers or on television and subsequent increases in the suicide rate. Contagion from News …the United States, which found considerable evidence that suicide stories in the mass media, including newspaper articles (e.g., Barraclough, Shepherd, & Jennings, 1977; Blumenthal & Bergner, 1973; Etzersdorfer et al., 1992; Ganzeboom & de Haan, 1982; Ishii, 1991; Jonas, 1992; Motto, 1970; Phillips, 1974, 1979, 1980; Stack, 1989, 1990a, 1990c, 1992, 1996; Wasserman, 1984) and television news reports (e.g., Bollen & Phillips, 1982; Phillips & Carstensen, 1986; Stack, 1990b, 1991, 1993) are followed by a significant increase in the number of suicides. Contagion from News The magnitude of the increase in suicides following a suicide story is proportional to the amount, duration, and prominence of media coverage (see Gould, 2001, for review). Celebrity Suicide in Austria A “dose-response” relationship has been reported by Etzersdorfer, Voracek, and Sonneck (2001) in an examination of the relationship between the regional distribution of a tabloid newspaper’s coverage of a celebrity suicide by firearms in Austria and an increase in firearm suicides. Contagion from the Fiction So, for example, after the airing of a TV movie that included an act of suicide, Ostroff, Behrends, Lee, and Oliphant (l985) and Ostroff and Boyd (l987) found an increase in hospitalization of adolescents who had attempted suicide. Study in Germany A similar study of the six-part TV series “Death of a Student” in West Germany by Schmidtke and Hafner (1981) found an increase in suicides by adolescents and young adults in the 70 days following the airing of a TV movie showing a suicide by leaping into the path of a train. The number of suicides by that method increased as well. US Study on T eenagers … a study (Cutler, Glaeser, &Norberg, 2001) using data from ADD Health, a nationally representative stratified random sample of U.S. high school students, found that teenagers who knew friends or family members who had attempted suicide were about 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than teens who did not know someone who had attempted suicide. There was support for the causality of the association because in an examination of two waves of data, teenagers who had not already made a suicide attempt in the first wave were more likely to attempt suicide by the second wave if they had a friend or relative attempt suicide. This isn’t the media, but from personal friend circles. Surgeon General’s Report The existence of suicide contagion should no longer be questioned. The Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health concluded that “evidence has accumulated that supports the observation that suicide can be facilitated in vulnerable teens by exposure to real or fictional accounts of suicide” (Surgeon General of the United States, 1999). Reverse News Effect Indeed, studies have identified a decrease in suicides following the implementation of media guidelines (Etzersdorfer et al., 1992; Etzersdorfer & Sonneck, 1998; Sonneck, Etzersdorfer, & Nagel-Kuess, 1994) or during the cessation of news stories that occurred during newspaper strikes (Blumental & Bergner, 1973; Motto, 1970). As a result, several countries (e.g., Australia Department of Health and Aged Care, 1999) as well as The World Health Organization (2000) have developed guidelines for the reporting of suicide in the news media. We use wording like “unexpected” or “suddenly” to lessen the effect. During media strikes, there are dips in the levels of suicides committed. In China, they still show it and describe the process. They cover is because it’s a human interest piece . Reporting on Suicide: Recommendations for the Media Research suggests that inadvertently romanticizing suicide or idealizing those who take their own lives by portraying suicide as a heroic or romantic act may encourage others to identify with the victim (Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). Recommendation for the Media Exposure to suicide method through media reports can encourage vulnerable individuals to imitate it (Fekete&Macsai, 1990). Clinicians believe the danger is even greater if there is a detailed description of the method. Research indicates that detailed descriptions or pictures of the location or site of a suicide encourage imitation (Sonneck et al., 1994). Recommendation for the Media Presenting suicide as the inexplicable act of an otherwise healthy or high-achieving person may encourage identification with the victim (Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). Recommendation from the Media Dramatizing the impact of suicide through descriptions and pictures of grieving relatives, teachers or classmates, or community expressions of grief may encourage potential victims to see suicide as a way of getting attention or as a form of retaliation against others. Recommendation for the Media Research has shown that the use in headlines of the word suicide or referring to the cause of death as self-inflicted increases the likelihood of contagion (Phillips, Lesyna, & Paight, 1992). Recommendation for the Media Celebrity deaths by suicide are more likely than non-celebrity deaths to produce imitation (Wasserman, 1984). Although suicides by celebrities will receive prominent coverage, it is important not to let the glamour of the individual obscure any mental health problems or use of drugs. Effect of Death of Princess Diana Based on the data from England and Wales, suicide increased following Diana’s funeral, especially among females aged 25-44. She died in a car accident, and the found that suicide increased following her funeral. (for those Hawton, K. et al. (2000). Effect of death of Diana, Princess of Wales on suicide and deliberate self-harm. British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 463-466. This DETERED the number of suicide attacks. Effect of September 11 Attack The number of suicides reported in the month of September 2001 was significantly lower than other months in the same year and any September of the previous 22 years in England and Wales. A suicide reduction in men, regardless of age, occurred in the week starting Tuesday 11 September 2001. A reduction in female suicide occurred during the four weeks following the attack. There was no evidence of a similar effect on homicide. Salib E. Effect of 11 September 2001 on suicide and homicide in England and Wales. Br J Psychiatry 2003; 183: 207–12.


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