Elahe Izadi writes for the Washington Post:
Suicide is a substantial public health issue. Instances have risen over the past decade, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, particularly among the middle-aged. More people die in the U.S. by suicide than in car accidents. But focusing media attention on suicide—while well-intentioned—can lead to the tragic outcome of fueling more if such a national conversation is not handled in the right way...Lots of journalists and experts are discussing and following the CDC's reporting guidelines on suicide and the potential for contagion. The UK's newspaper tabloids are blatantly ignoring them.
It’s the suicide contagion effect.
Even this seemingly heartwarming viral tweet-tribute to Williams from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Izadi suggests, could be harmful because it implies the suicide was a choice or an option.
Does a media-amplified contagion effect also apply to school or mass shootings? That's the question in this article I wrote about the legal fight between local TV stations and victims over the release of surveillance video of the June 5 Seattle Pacific University shooting. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the Vice President for Research at the American Suicide Prevention Foundation, suspects that it does.