One of the first things I do in the morning is check the front pages of the daily papers and on the day following Robin Williams’ death, rarely have I been so disappointed in the British press.
Over the years, we have gathered a lot of evidence from reliable studies that show that how suicide is reported in the mass media affects the chances of suicide in the population – likely due to its effect on vulnerable people.
In other words, sensationalist and simplistic coverage of suicides, particularly celebrity suicides, regularly leads to more deaths.
It seems counter-intuitive to many, that a media description of suicide could actually increase the risk for suicide, but it is a genuine risk and people die through what is sometimes called suicide contagion or copycat suicide.
For this reason, organisations from the Samaritans, to the Centre for Disease Control, to an international…
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