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The influence of media portrayal of suicide on adolescent's suicidal intentions
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies.
2023 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background: The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that 90% of teenagers between 13-17 years have access to media, including social media, and are therefore at risk to be exposed to harmful or inappropriate content. This can lead to depression and suicide. According to the WHO, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people.

Several studies conducted by Till & Niederkrotenthaler (2019) show that suicide portrayals in media can influence the suicidality of recipients and is therefore cruicial when talking about suicide prevention. The importance of suicide prevention is shown in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stating that the WHO wants to 'ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages' by promoting mental health and well-being. 

Aim: The aim of this thesis is to explore suicidal thoughts among adolescents and to investigate the effect of media portrayals of suicide on young people. Furthermore, this thesis investigates responsible reporting on suicide.

Method: This thesis provides a systematic literature review synthesising 15 peer-reviewed articles and studies, both written in German and English, about suicide among adolescents, possibilities of suicide prevention, the Werther effect, the Papageno effect, media portrayal of suicide, and harmful and helpful characteristics in suicide reporting. Relevant articles and studies regarding these topics were found in the Ebsco database.

Findings: Studies about the portrayal of suicide in the media show that there are benefits, like promoting helplines and counseling services and a better understanding of suicidal ideation, but also downsides, such as copycats. The decisive factor here is whether the guidelines for responsible reporting on suicide have been followed or not.

Further research is needed and could focus on unsuccessful suicide attempts in order to interview people what influenced their suicidal intentions. In addition, general guidelines are needed on how suicide should be reported in the media in order to prevent possible imitations of both real and fictional depictions of suicide.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. , p. 34
Keywords [en]
adolescent suicide, suicide prevention, medial influence, Werther effect, Papageno effect, responsible reporting on suicide
National Category
Social Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-20487Local ID: BUE600OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-20487DiVA, id: diva2:1782077
Subject / course
Child and Youth Studies
Educational program
Barn och ungdomsvetenskapligt magisterprogram
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2023-07-19 Created: 2023-07-12 Last updated: 2023-07-19Bibliographically approved

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