Traveling Workshop About Covering Suicide Presented at Kent State
Media coverage can influence suicide rates positively and negatively, depending on the language used in a story.
Student journalists and other members of the Kent State community learned best practices for reporting on suicides at a traveling workshop presented in partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on March 21. The workshop appeared at just six Ohio locations, including Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The presentation was led by Nerissa Young, lecturer in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, and John Ackerman, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research. Both shared facts to debunk myths about suicide and strategies for journalists to report suicide deaths in a manner that serves their audience and communities.
Journalists should be aware of suicide contagion, they said, which is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors, often through media stories. Studies show that it can result in an increase of suicidal behaviors in others. Young and Ackerman advised journalists to avoid sensationalized headlines, simplifying suicide to a single cause and repeatedly reporting on the same suicide death.
Attendees also participated in a case study activity to practice reporting suicide in a positive, productive way. To learn more about best practices for reporting suicide, go to http://mha.ohio.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=882.