Suicides in the Print Media:
Analyzing the Newspapers’ Reporting Practices of Suicides in Pakistan
Keywords:Suicide contagion; Media Ethics; Werther effect; Copycat behaviour; Print Media
Evidence suggests that suicide is a highly prevalent health concern and one of the leading causes of mortality. Every year thousands of people die of suicides,which is briskly increasing, especially in South Asia. Previous studies directly attribute suicide behavior tonews media portrayals of the relevant incidents. Nonetheless, people having psychological problems are comparatively more vulnerable to imitating self-harming behavior. In this regard, Pakistan and other countries have also developed ethical guidelines concerning news media reporting to counteract an increased suicide contagion. The current study also aims to examine the newspapers’ reporting of suicide incidents under theSocial Responsibility Theory of Press. The researcher conducted a direct content analysis of n= 3 newspapers (national dailies) and carefully analyzed their reporting patterns. Results indicated clear violations of all the designated reporting guidelines. Moreover, mentioning the single reason behind self-harming behavior was the most frequently repeated violation. The researchers concluded that these violations can cause a rapid imitation of self-destructive behavior especially among the mentally vulnerable individuals. Thus, newspapers should obligate the designated ethical guideline to keep people safe from imitating the self-harming behavior.