Granted, there’s less of an effect when the suicide is fictional, but even then, it’s associated with more than a quadruple increase in a copycat effect.
Too often, we assume that there’s nothing we can do. In 2011, for the first time in more than 20 years, more teenagers died from suicide than homicide. Our response to them hasn’t adequately acknowledged their progression. The World Health Organization has a guide for how media professionals should talk about the subject.
They should avoid sensationalizing it or normalizing it.
“13 Reasons Why” generated more than 600,000 news reports.
In the 19 days after its release, searches about suicide were about 19 percent higher than expected.
The health care system needs to strengthen access to and delivery of mental health care, as well as improve our ability to identify and support teenagers at risk. We need to make things safer for teenagers, which includes reducing their access to the means they might likely use in a suicide attempt.
Also important but more difficult, we need to promote connectedness and limit isolation.Almost none of the guns used in suicides are assault weapons, and yet that seems to be the singular focus of many activists.In about 45 percent of suicides among those age 15 to 24, guns were used.As hoped, some searches for things like “suicide hotline,” “suicide prevention” and “teen suicide” went up.But so did searches for “commit suicide,” “how to commit suicide” and “how to kill yourself.” The long-term effects of this are unclear, but are certainly concerning enough to monitor.Many experts were concerned that the series glamorized suicide, though.They were especially concerned because the producers chose to show the suicide in a long three-minute scene, where the protagonist slit her wrists in a bathtub.Having access to guns can make a big difference, because they are devastatingly efficient.Suicide attempts by gun succeed more than 85 percent of the time; attempts by overdose or poisoning succeed less than 2 percent of the time.They should be careful not to repeat accounts of suicide or to provide explicit descriptions as to how suicide might be attempted or completed.They should word headlines carefully, and avoid video or photos of suicides or the victims.