Media reporting of suicide, especially celebrity suicides, is associated with increases in suicide in the general population, particularly by the same method as used by the celebrity, finds a systematic review and meta-analysis of the latest evidence published by the BMJ.
A team of international researchers examined the association between reporting on suicides, especially celebrity suicides, and subsequent suicides in the general population.
The researchers identified 31 studies; 20 studies with moderate risk of bias were included in the main analyses.
The risk of suicide increased by 13 per cent in the period after the media reported the death of a celebrity by suicide (rate ratio [RR] 1.13; 95% CI 1.08-1.18; 14 studies; median follow-up 28 days, range 7-60 days).
When the suicide method was reported, there was an associated 30 per cent increase in deaths by the same method (RR 1.30; 95% CI 1.18-1.44; 11 studies; median follow-up 28 days, range 14-60 days).
For general reporting of suicide, the rate ratio was 1.002 (95% CI 0.997-1.008; five studies; median follow-up 1 day, range 1-8 days) for a one article increase in the number of reports on suicide.
Heterogeneity was large and partially explained by celebrity and methodological factors.