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Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(12)2021 06 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1282461


BACKGROUND: Each year there are more than 800,000 deaths by suicide across the world, while India alone accounts for one third of female suicides and one fourth of male suicides worldwide. Responsible media reporting of suicide is an important suicide prevention intervention at the population level. There is sufficient evidence to show that the way suicide is reported and portrayed in the media can have a significant impact on individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Recognizing the important role of the media in suicide prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines for responsible reporting of suicides by the media. The Press Council of India, in 2019 endorsed WHO's guidelines for media reporting of suicides, however there is no evidence that the Indian media is complying with these guidelines. METHODS: To encourage responsible media reporting, we developed a scorecard to assess and rate media reports on suicide. We reviewed several resource documents that contained guidelines on responsible reporting of suicide. After consulting with a team of experts, we arrived at a scorecard that consisted of 10 positive and 10 negative parameters. RESULTS: We applied the scorecard to 1318 reports on suicide from 9 English language newspapers, with the highest readership in India between the dates of 1 April to 30 June 2020. For the articles analyzed, the average positive score across all newspapers was 1.32 and the average negative score was 3.31. DISCUSSION: The scorecard can be a useful tool to assess media reports on suicide and provide metrics for the same. It can facilitate improved monitoring and engagement with media organizations, who can quickly check their own reporting compliance to the WHO guidelines and compare how well they are performing compared to their peers over time.

Suicide , Female , Humans , India/epidemiology , Male , Mass Media , Suicidal Ideation , World Health Organization
Int J Ment Health Syst ; 14(1): 88, 2020 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-961329


BACKGROUND: Based on previous experience there is justifiable concern about suicidal behaviour and news media reporting of it during COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: This study used a systematic search of online news media reports (versions of newspapers, magazine and other digital publications) of suicidal behaviour during India's COVID-19 lockdown and compared it to corresponding dates in 2019. Data was gathered using a uniform search strategy from 56 online news media publications 24 March to 3 May for the years 2019 and 2020 using keywords, suicide, attempted suicide, hangs self and kills self. Demographic variables and methods used for suicide were compared for suicide and attempts between the 2 years using chi-squared tests (χ2). RESULTS: There were online news media reports of 369 cases of suicides and attempted suicides during COVID lockdown vs 220 reports in 2019, a 67.7% increase in online news media reports of suicidal behaviour. Compared to 2019, suicides reported during lockdown were significantly older (30 vs 50 years, p < 0.05), men (71.2% vs 58.7%; p < 0.01), married (77.7% vs 49%; p < 0.01) and employed (82.9% vs 59.5%; p < 0.01). During the lockdown, significantly more suicides were by hanging (64.4% vs 42%), while poisoning (8.5% vs 21.5%) and jumping in front of a train (2% vs 9.4%) (p < 0.05) were significantly reduced. Comparison of COVID and non-COVID groups showed that online news media reports of COVID cases of suicide and attempted suicide were significantly more likely to be men (84.7% vs 60.4%; p < 0.01), older (31-50 years 52.9% vs 25.8%; p < 0.01) employed (91.5% vs 64.3%; p < 0.01), had poor mental (40.1% vs 20.8%; p < 0.01) and poor physical health (24.8% vs 7.9%;11.8, p < 0.01). CONCLUSION: Increase in online news media reports of suicides and attempts during COVID-19 lockdown may indicate an increase in journalists' awareness about suicide or more sensational media reporting or may be a proxy indicator of a real community increase in suicidal behaviour. It is difficult to attribute changes in demographic profile and methods used only to changes in journalists' reporting behaviour and should be further explored. We therefore call upon the Government of India to urgently release national suicide data to help devise a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy to address COVID-19 suicidal behaviour.