Youth suicide continues to be a problem in today’s society. With the growth of internet sites, music, television, video games, and even news broadcasting, violence such as suicide can be seen or heard by anyone who has access to these forms of media. Because youth have more access to the high levels of growing technology in society, it is important to discover whether or not the media has an impact on youth suicide.
Acts of suicide are discussed in many different forms of media. The news, reports acts of suicide by important or famous public figures, internet sites have chat rooms for people contemplating suicide, and television and music portray and discuss suicide.
True stories of suicide are also discussed in the media. The news, reports acts of suicide by important or famous public figures, internet sites have chat rooms for people contemplating suicide, and television and music portray and discuss suicide. These modes of exposure to suicide are available to anyone who has access to the media. The publicized stories regarding suicide are usually concerned with important or famous persons. Some research suggests that imitation effects rise after a publicized suicide of a famous or important person, other studies found no effect
Suicide is one of the violent behaviors that can be seen through televised programming and more research needs to be conducted regarding its affect on our youth. The question regarding the imitation behavior viewed on television is whether it is the portrayal of the act itself or the famous person portraying the act.
Lyrics such as“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam or “Stan” by Eminem discuss suicide. These lyrics are heard by many young people, which have lead to a rise in concern regarding whether or not the lyrics of songs and the videos that accompany them, have an influence on the way youth behave.
There has not been enough research to determine if the exposure to suicide in the media has an actual affect on suicide imitative behavior in youth. Predisposition is discussed in each piece of literature reviewed.
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MEDIA AND YOUTH SUICIDE Eileen Miskovitch October 22, 2011 PSY492
AbstractResearch regarding the way violence in the media affects youth behavioris abundant. However, there is a scarcity of research concerningwhether media violence, suicide, in particular, has an impact onimitative youth behavior. Many forms of media depict suicidal behaviorand youth are gaining more accessibility to this media. The media formsthat will be discussed are: nonfictional stories of suicide, televisionportrayal of suicide, and music.
Overview The third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10-24is suicide, which results in approximately 4400 lives lost each year(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). The risk of suicide after media exposure to suicide, in particular, theexposure of another individual’s suicide was 2 to 4 times higher among15-19 years olds than other age groups ( Gould, Wallenstein, Kleinman,O’Carroll, & Mercy ,1990). According to population statistics, suicide media publicity results in asmall but significant increase in the number of people who die by suicidefollowing the publicized event (Mishara &Weisstub, 2007)
Overview cont. Narrative research regarding media and suicide coverage hasgenerally concluded that there is a relationship between mediacoverage of suicide and an enhanced suicidal behavior in society(Stack, 2005). Because youth have more access to the high levels of growingtechnology in society, it is important to discover whether or not themedia has an impact on youth imitative suicide. behavior.
Nonfictional Stories Research has shown that publicized suicide of well known figuresmay have an impact on “copycat” behavior. According to Gould, Jamieson, and Romer (2003) studies based onreal stories about suicide were 14.3 times more likely to find imitationeffects In a quantitative analysis of 293 findings from 42 studies Stack(2005) found that studies which assessed the suicide of an entertaineror popular political figure were 14.3 times more likely to find a relationto imitative effects than studies that did not involve these types ofpersons. Stack (2005) also conducted narrative reviews on imitative suicidebehavior and indicated that 269/419 findings or 62.2% reported theabsence of an imitative effect.
Television In a study of four made-for-television films, , discussed by Berman(1988), in 1986 Gould and Schaffer discovered that 2 weeks after thebroadcast of three of the films which portrayed suicide, there was asignificant increase in suicide attempts by teenagers after the filmswere released rather than before. Marjorie J. Hogan MD. (205, p. 260) states “Attractive, powerful,charismatic perpetrators of violence encourage young viewers toimitate their roles and behaviors”. Berman (1988) concluded that film presentations of suicide mayintroduce a model of suicide, which if viewed by a personpredisposed to suicide, can provide a final solution.
Music According to Rustad, Small, Jobes, Safer, and Peterson (2003),adolescents in the United States alone listen to approximately four hoursof music a day, and purchase close to 70% of popular music recordings. Although the number of hours spent listening to music by youth seemsrather high, there has been little research conducted regarding the actualimpact of suicide-expressive lyrics on the feelings, thoughts, attitudes, orperceptions youth have to these lyrics (Rustad, et al., 2003). In a review of heavy metal music and its subculture, Stack, Gundlachand Reeves (1994) concluded that the lyrics of heavy metal music are notthe immediate cause of suicidal behavior, but because the lyrics arebeing heard by an adolescent who may be having family, school,substance abuse or other problems, the adolescent may be at amoderate or high risk for suicide.
Summary of Literature Review There my be a correlation between exposure to suicide in the mediaand youth suicide imitation behavior. The act of imitating suicide witnessed in the media tends to increaseafter highly publicized acts. Youth who are impacted by media exposure are generally predisposedto suicidal thoughts and or behavior. Youth who imitate suicide tend to have mental illness such asdepression or mood disorders, use drugs or alcohol, or are victims ofsocial labeling or abuse.
Summary of Literature Review cont. Most of the research conducted on the topic of youth suicide andmedia exposure has involved narrative research.Narrative research data is difficult to generalize to the population sothere is no definite answer whether or not media exposure to acts ofsuicide cause imitation behavior in youths. Research shows a correlation between exposure of violent acts in themedia and a rise in imitation behavior but cannot determine causation.
Recommendation for Future Research More research regarding the effects of violent acts in the medianeeds to be conducted. Conduct research to determine how many youth that attempt orcommit suicide were predisposed to suicidal thoughts and tendenciesbefore witnessing a publicized act of suicide. Find information to help determine whether it is the exposure tomedia or the predisposition that leads to acts of suicide.
ReferencesBerman, A. L. (1988). Fictional depiction of suicide in television films and imitation effects.The American Journal of Psychiatry, 145(8), 982-982-6. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/220463281?accountid=34899Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Suicide prevention: Youth suicide.Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_suicide.htmlGould, M., Jamieson, P., & Romer, D. (2003). Media contagion and suicide among theyoung. The American Behavioral Scientist, 46(9), 1269-1269-1284. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/214758170?accountid=34899Gould, M., Wallenstein, S., Kleinman, M., O’Carroll, P., & Mercy, J. Suicide clusters: Anexamination of age-specific effects. American Journal of Public Health, 80, 211-212Hogan, M. J. (2005). Adolescents and media violence: Six crucial issues for practitioners.Adolescent Medicine Clinics, 16(2), 249-249-68, vii. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/215204872?accountid=34899
References cont.Mishara, B. L., & Weisstub, D. N. (2007). Ethical, legal, and practical issues in thecontrol and regulation of suicide promotion and assistance over the internet. Suicide& Life - Threatening Behavior, 37(1), 58-58-65. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/224889034?accountid=34899Rustad, R. A., Small, J. E., Jobes, D. A., Safer, M. A., & Peterson, R. J. (2003). Theimpact of rock videos and music with suicidal content on thoughts and attitudesabout suicide.Stack, S. (2005). Suicide in the media: A quantitative review of studies based onnonfictional stories. Suicide & Life - Threatening Behavior, 35(2), 121-121-33.Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224884850?accountid=34899Stack, S., Gundlach, J., & Reeves, J. L. (1994). The heavy metal subculture and suicide.Suicide & Life - Threatening Behavior, 24(1), 15-15-23. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/224878035?accountid=34899