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Media Exposure of Suicidal Behaviour: An Umbrella Review.

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Sufrate-Sorzano, Teresa  ORCID logo
Garrote-Cámara, María Elena  ORCID logo
Molina-Luque, Fidel  ORCID logo
Recio-Rodríguez, José Ignacio  ORCID logo


AIM: To analyse recommended interventions for the safe and responsible dissemination of suicidal behaviour in the media for preventive purposes. BACKGROUND: Suicide is a serious public health problem that leads to more than 700,000 deaths per year, which translates into one death every forty seconds. The media play a significant role in shaping public perceptions and reflecting societal issues. Because of its active role in the construction of reality, the way in which the media report and expose suicidal behaviour has the capacity to influence the population in either a preventive or harmful way. DESIGN: An umbrella review was carried out and a report was written according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Overviews of Reviews. METHODS: We systematically searched for reviews published from inception to February 2023 in MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL and PsycInfo (via EBSCOhost), Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews, Scopus, and Google Scholar. A narrative synthesis of the results was conducted. RESULTS: Six systematic reviews with a moderate to high quality level were selected. Among the recommended interventions were the inclusion of positive messages of hope, resilience, or of overcoming the event, narratives with information on available resources or the promotion of support-seeking attitudes as an effective prevention mechanism, as well as the avoidance of repetitive reporting of the same suicide. The appropriate and responsible dissemination of information on suicidal behaviour in the media with complete and up-to-date information on available centres, organisations, institutions, and resources has proven to be effective, especially in vulnerable populations. CONCLUSION: Educating and training the media in an appropriate approach to disseminating suicidal behaviour helps to reduce the number of suicidal behaviours. Knowing what information is advisable to include in the news item as well as what information to avoid is a strong point. Guidelines to promote responsible media reporting are a key component of suicide prevention strategies. This study was prospectively registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) on 23 April 2022 with the registration number CRD42022320393.


Peer reviewed: True

Publication status: Published


Papageno effect, communications media, general literature review, prevention, suicidal behaviours, suicidal ideation and Werther effect, suicide

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