Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Views and attitudes regarding the
reporting of suicide held by media
professionals in Australia
Report prepared by Jaelea ...
About the research
• Within the suicide literature, there has been extensive research
investigating the relationship betwe...
About the research
• This research forms part of a PhD study through the University of
Newcastle and was supported by a te...
Acknowledgements
• This research forms part of Jaelea Skehan’s PhD study supervised by
Professor Brian Kelly (University o...
The Australian context
• In Australia, evidence-based guidelines for media reporting of suicide
have been developed and di...
Research methodology
• People were eligible to participate in the research if they were: (a) over
the age of 18 years; and...
The survey instrument included five sections:
1. Participant demographics, including current role and educational
backgrou...
1. Participant demographics
A total of 262 participants were able to complete the survey by indicating
that they were curr...
Figure 1. Age of participants (%)
Age: Almost three-quarters
(73%) of participants were
aged between 26 and 55
years old, ...
1. Participant demographics
Over half of the participants (59%) had studied journalism at an Australian university,
with C...
1. Participant demographics
The most represented
state in the sample was
NSW (42%) followed by
Victoria (18%) and
Queensla...
1. Participant demographics
Participants worked across broadcast, print and digital media. Over half of
the participants w...
1. Participant demographics
On average, participants had 16 years of experience (mean = 15.5 years) in
media, with a range...
2. Reporting of suicide
Media professionals were asked to rate their level of agreement with a range
of statements about r...
2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with
principles high (>70%)
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
So...
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat
agree
Strongly
agree or
agree*
Reports about suicide sho...
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat
agree
Strongly
agree or
agree*
The media should involve ...
2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with
principles low (<50%)
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
Som...
2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with
principles low (<50%)
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
Som...
Strongly
Disagree
or
Disagree*
Somewhat
Disagree
Neutral
Somewhat
agree
Strongly
agree or
agree*
Reporting on individual d...
Of the participants (n=229) who responded to this question, more than half indicated
that they reported on suicide about o...
62.4%
21.7%
3.5%
0.4%
5.3%
6.6%
All of the time
Most of the time
Some of the time
Never
I am unaware of any
guidelines
Oth...
3. Stigma of Suicide
Respondents (n=224) were asked to complete the 16-item Stigma Of Suicide
Scale (SOSS), that measures ...
Stigma
Isolation/
Depression
Glorification/
Normalisation
Media professionals (this research - unpublished) 1.61 3.54 1.91...
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
YES
NO
4. Exposure to suicide (personal)
Over three-quarters of participants who answered the ques...
4. Exposure to suicide (personal)
When asked to think about the death
that had the most impact on their
life, most respond...
Table 8: Impact of exposure to suicide (personal)
More than half of participants reported that the death had a significant...
<1 year
(n=8)
1-5 years
(n=26)
5-10 years
(n=15)
>10 years
(n=27)
The death had little effect on my life. 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0...
4. Exposure to suicide (professional)
More than half (64.4%) of respondents had interviewed or interacted with someone
ber...
4. Exposure to suicide: workplace support
Table 11: Workplace awareness and support.
When asked to reflect on whether thei...
0.5% 1.4%
5.9%
34.2%
58.1%
Yes, daily
Yes, about once a
week
Yes, once or twice a
month
Yes, once or twice a
year
No, I ha...
5. Exposure to Mindframe
Most participants who have been exposed to Mindframe, indicated they were
exposed via their workp...
5. Comments provided about Mindframe
“They need to be promoted more in all workplaces”
“I'd like to get reminders of the r...
Support services
Services are available to anyone needing immediate support.
Contact Us:
Email:
mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
himh@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au
Twitter:
@HInstMH
@MindframeMedia
Websites:
ww...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Research: Views and attitudes of media professionals on reporting suicide

2,046 views

Published on

Today, new research has been released that examines attitudes towards the reporting about suicide held by media professionals in Australia.

This report forms part of a PhD study and was supported by staff at the Hunter Institute of Mental health working on the Mindframe National Media Initiative.

For more ifnormation about the research visit www.mindframe-media.info

Published in: Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Research: Views and attitudes of media professionals on reporting suicide

  1. 1. Views and attitudes regarding the reporting of suicide held by media professionals in Australia Report prepared by Jaelea Skehan, Ross Tynan and Renate Thienel for the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Mindframe National Media Initiative.
  2. 2. About the research • Within the suicide literature, there has been extensive research investigating the relationship between news reporting and suicide. This research has been used to develop evidence-based recommendations regarding how to safely report on suicide. • There has been very little research, however, looking at the views and attitudes of media professionals, including their views on recommendations about reporting suicide. • This research aimed to gather information about media professionals’ attitudes towards the reporting of suicide; their level of exposure to suicide; and their attitude towards suicide in general. • This research is complemented by two further studies to assess the knowledge and attitudes of public relations and communication professionals and students studying journalism or public relations.
  3. 3. About the research • This research forms part of a PhD study through the University of Newcastle and was supported by a team of staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, who manage the Mindframe National Media Initiative. • The research has been approved by the University of Newcastle’s Human Research Ethics Committee, Approval No H-2014-0369. • This is a summary report of results, which have not yet been peer- reviewed. It has been developed for broader communication through the Mindframe National Media Initiative and the media partners in Australia. • Further analysis will be included as part of a peer-reviewed publication.
  4. 4. Acknowledgements • This research forms part of Jaelea Skehan’s PhD study supervised by Professor Brian Kelly (University of Newcastle), Professor Jane Pirkis (University of Melbourne) and Associate Professor Myfanwy Maple (University of New England). • The research was supported by a team of staff from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, including Dr Ross Tynan, Dr Renate Thienel and Mr Marc Bryant. • Media organisations in Australia and the project team working on the Mindframe National Media Initiative supported recruitment for this study.
  5. 5. The Australian context • In Australia, evidence-based guidelines for media reporting of suicide have been developed and disseminated by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health under the Mindframe National Media Initiative (Mindframe). • Mindframe is a comprehensive and multi-faceted strategy that targets media organisations and media professionals as well as the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, police, courts, film and television, and universities offering programs in journalism, communications and public relations. It also offers a StigmaWatch program delivered by SANE Australia. • Australia is one of only two countries where the introduction of guidelines or strategies have resulted in a change in media reporting (Media Monitoring study, Pirkis et al. 2009).
  6. 6. Research methodology • People were eligible to participate in the research if they were: (a) over the age of 18 years; and (b) were currently (or in the past 2 years) employed as a media professional in Australia. • The survey was promoted by the peak media bodies, individual media organisations and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, using email, media release, social media posts and other online discussion forums. • Participation was voluntary and all surveys were completed online. At the end of the survey, participants were provided with an option to go into a draw (with contact details entered separate to the survey) to win one of ten $50 vouchers.
  7. 7. The survey instrument included five sections: 1. Participant demographics, including current role and educational background; 2. A 20-item rating scale assessing participants’ level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide; 3. The 16-item Stigma of Suicide Scale (SOSS); 4. Questions relating to participants’ personal and professional exposure to suicide; 5. Questions about participants’ prior exposure to the Mindframe program and resources. Research methodology
  8. 8. 1. Participant demographics A total of 262 participants were able to complete the survey by indicating that they were currently (or as recently as two years) working as a media professional in Australia. Gender: Participants included 171 people who identified as female (65%), 86 who identified as male (33%) and 5 people (2%) who did not complete the open field. Culture: 10 participants (4%) identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. 33% 65%
  9. 9. Figure 1. Age of participants (%) Age: Almost three-quarters (73%) of participants were aged between 26 and 55 years old, with 15% of participants aged 25 years or younger and 12% of participants aged over 56 years old (see Figure 1). 25 years or younger 26 - 35 years 36 - 45 years 46 - 55 years 56 - 64 years 65 years or older 1. Participant demographics
  10. 10. 1. Participant demographics Over half of the participants (59%) had studied journalism at an Australian university, with Charles Sturt (n=16); UTS (n=14), RMIT (n=14), QUT (n=11), Curtin (n=11) and University of Queensland (n=10) the most commonly mentioned – see Table 1. Table 1. University where participants studied journalism (n), n = 149* University n University n Charles Sturt University (CSU) 16 Edith Cowan University 5 University of Technology Sydney (UTS) 14 University of Tasmania 5 Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) 14 Monash University 4 Queensland University of Technology (QUT) 11 University of Newcastle 4 Curtin University 11 Melbourne University 3 University of Queensland 10 Murdoch University 3 University of South Australia 9 Griffith University 3 University of Canberra 6 University of Sydney 3 * Other universities mentioned by one or two participants included: James Cook University, J School, Latrobe University, Macleay College, Macquarie University, Deakin University, University of Wollongong, Bachelor Institute, University of Western Sydney.
  11. 11. 1. Participant demographics The most represented state in the sample was NSW (42%) followed by Victoria (18%) and Queensland (12%) – see Figure 2. Most participants were working in a capital city (with Sydney the most common), with only 17.5% working in a regional or rural area. Figure 2. Participants (%) by state 11.2% 42.7% 1.2% 6.6% 6.6% 17.8% 10.4% 2.9%
  12. 12. 1. Participant demographics Participants worked across broadcast, print and digital media. Over half of the participants worked in broadcast (56%), with ABC (77%) and SBS (17%) most represented. A total of 27% of participants worked in print media, with the Sydney Morning Herald (35%) most represented in this sample. Figure 3. Media type (%) n = 243 Broadcast Print Digital Wire Other Public Commercial Community Other Figure 4. Media type (%) n = 243
  13. 13. 1. Participant demographics On average, participants had 16 years of experience (mean = 15.5 years) in media, with a range between one year to 59 years – see Figure 5. Figure 5. Years of experience (%) 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 0-3 years 4-10 years 11-20 years 21+ years
  14. 14. 2. Reporting of suicide Media professionals were asked to rate their level of agreement with a range of statements about reporting of suicide, using a 7-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. • Tables 2-4 provides a summary of responses to 16 statements that relate to current evidence-informed recommendations provided through the Mindframe Initiative in Australia, and the expected direction of responses based on the current recommendations, indicated by a green, yellow or red box. • Table 5 provides a summary of responses to four more general statements about the frequency and value of reporting about suicide. • To simplify the reporting of results, the strongly agree and agree as well as the strongly disagree and disagree categories were combined, with results in Table 2 and Table 3 presented on a 5-point scale.
  15. 15. 2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with principles high (>70%) Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* Journalists should ensure information about suicide (including suicide statistics) is accurate and confirmed. (n=234) 1.3% 0 0.9% 1.3% It is important to report about a suspected suicide quickly, stating it is suicide or suspected suicide even if the cause of death has not yet been confirmed. (n=237) 12.7% 3.0% 3.8% 2.6% Adding help-seeking information to stories about suicide is not helpful. (n=234) 8.5% 5.6% 1.7% 4.3% Reports should show images of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who has died by suicide. (n=234) 8.1% 12.4% 2.1% 3.0% Table 2: Level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide, with high (>70%) alignment with Mindframe recommendations. 96.5% 78.1% 79.9% 74.4%
  16. 16. Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* Reports about suicide should not mention specific details about the method of suicide. (n=242) 6.2% 7.4% 8.7% 12.8% Suicide deaths should only be reported when there is a clear public interest to do so. (n=236) 7.2% 11.4% 5.9% 20.8% If a celebrity dies by suicide, then it is important to report the death in detail. (n=241) 17.8% 7.1% 16.2% 7.4% The best time to interview people bereaved by suicide is soon after the death (n=240) 13.8% 17.1% 6.7% 1.7% Table 3: Level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide, with moderate (>50%) alignment with Mindframe recommendations. 2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with principles moderate (>50%) 64.7% 54.7% 51.4% 60.8%
  17. 17. Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* The media should involve suicide prevention experts or services in any story about suicide. (n=234) 6.8% 4.3% 4.7% 21.4% People in the media can be adversely impacted when reporting on suicide. (n=233) 2.8% 1.7% 9.0% 17.2% Stories that involve people who have been suicidal in the past can be helpful. (n=236) 2.1% 2.5% 8.5% 17.8% Table 3 (cont.): Level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide, with moderate (>50%) alignment with Mindframe recommendations. 2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with principles moderate (>50%) 62.8% 69.5% 69.1%
  18. 18. 2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with principles low (<50%) Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* Suicide deaths should always be reported. (n=242) 16.9% 13.2% 17.4% 11.2% Reporting on individual deaths by suicide can increase the risk of suicide in other members of the community. (n=237) 15.1% 13.5% 15.2% 21.9% Reports should include the location of a suicide death, especially if it occurs at a well- known location. (n=234) 15.0% 20.5% 11.5% 6.9% Table 4: Level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide, with low (<50%) alignment with Mindframe recommendations. 41.3% 32.4% 46.2%
  19. 19. 2. Reporting of suicide: Alignment with principles low (<50%) Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* When reporting on a story that involves suicide, it is appropriate to use the term ‘committed suicide’. (n=234) 12.0% 32.1% 8.1% 10.2% Stories about a suicide death should not use the word 'suicide' in the headline, lead or online search terms. (n=241) 31.9% 14.9% 14.9% 12.9% 37.6% 25.3% Table 4 (cont.): Level of agreement with statements about reporting of suicide, with low (<50%) alignment with Mindframe recommendations.
  20. 20. Strongly Disagree or Disagree* Somewhat Disagree Neutral Somewhat agree Strongly agree or agree* Reporting on individual deaths by suicide will help to reduce suicide. (n=235) 26.3% 19.7% 34.9% 12.3% 7.7% Reporting on the broader issue of suicide will help to reduce suicide. (n=235) 2.1% 1.3% 6.0% 25.1% 65.6% Having a regular ‘suicide toll’ in the media would help reduce suicide. (n=233) 46.8% 9.4% 21.5% 12.9% 9.4% Media should report about suicide more often than they currently do. (n=240) 16.7% 4.2% 14.6% 27.5% 37.1% * Strongly disagree/disagree and strongly agree/agree options have been combined in this report 2. Reporting of suicide Table 5: Level of agreement with general statements about reporting of suicide.
  21. 21. Of the participants (n=229) who responded to this question, more than half indicated that they reported on suicide about once a year, with 14% indicating that they reported on suicide about once a month or once a week. Some (17.5%) had never reported on suicide. When asked how often they heard about suicide as part of their job, people were most likely to indicate this happened between weekly and yearly, with the most common response being monthly (46.7%). daily weekly monthly yearly never other During your career, how often have you had to cover a story involving suicide? 0 2.6% 14.4% 50.2% 17.5% 15.3% During your career, how often would you hear about a suicide attempt or suicide death as part of your job? 4.8% 17.9% 46.7% 24.0% 1.3% 5.2% Table 6: Professional exposure to suicide and impact experienced. 2. Reporting of suicide
  22. 22. 62.4% 21.7% 3.5% 0.4% 5.3% 6.6% All of the time Most of the time Some of the time Never I am unaware of any guidelines Other (please specify) 2. Reporting of suicide Applying guidelines: When asked to think about their own professional reporting on suicide, more than 80% of the respondents indicated that they always or mostly use guidelines, only a small percentage were either not aware of guidelines (5%), or rather or never used them - the latter in only 0.4% of the respondents. Figure 6. Application of guidelines for reporting suicide in their practice (%)
  23. 23. 3. Stigma of Suicide Respondents (n=224) were asked to complete the 16-item Stigma Of Suicide Scale (SOSS), that measures three underlying constructs: Stigma (8 items); Depression/Isolation (4 Items); Glorification/Normalisation (4 items). Participants were asked to rate how much they agreed with a series of descriptions of people who take their own lives (suicide) on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘Strongly disagree’ to ‘Strongly agree’ and a mean score (between 1 and 5) was calculated for each construct as indicated in Table 7. • For the Stigma construct higher scores indicate higher levels of stigma. • On the Depression/Isolation scale, higher scores indicate respondents are more likely to attribute suicide to depression/isolation. • On the Glorification/Normalisation scale, higher scores indicate that respondents are more likely to glorify or normalise suicide.
  24. 24. Stigma Isolation/ Depression Glorification/ Normalisation Media professionals (this research - unpublished) 1.61 3.54 1.91 Public relations and communication professionals (complementary research - unpublished) 1.58 3.67 1.98 Australian community* (published research) 2.19 4.11 2.45 Medical students* (published research) 2.06 3.50 1.85 Table 7: Stigma of Suicide construct scores (mean) and comparative research. In general, media professionals had low scores on the stigma and glorification constructs and higher scores on the depression construct. Based on responses from other published research, media professionals appear to have lower levels of stigma, however caution should be exercised when comparing different research samples. 3. Stigma of Suicide
  25. 25. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% YES NO 4. Exposure to suicide (personal) Over three-quarters of participants who answered the question (n=173) reported having known someone who died by suicide, with almost 44% (n=75) of these people reporting that they were ‘close’ to at least one person who died by suicide (with a mean of 2.3 people). Figure 8. Have you been close to someone who died by suicide (%)?Figure 7. Do you know anyone who died by suicide (%)? Mean = 2.1 (Range: 1-7) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% YES NO
  26. 26. 4. Exposure to suicide (personal) When asked to think about the death that had the most impact on their life, most respondents reported that the person was a friend (53%) or family member (37%). When asked how long ago the death occurred, participants were equally likely to report it occurred between 1-5 years ago (34%) or over 10 years ago (36%). Family breakdown (n=28): Extended family (68%); Sibling (14%); Partner (7%); Parent (4%); Child (7%). Figure 9. Relationship to the person (%) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 53% 37% 9% Other Family Friend Figure 10. Length of time since death (%) 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% < 1 year 1-5 years 5-10 years > 10 years
  27. 27. Table 8: Impact of exposure to suicide (personal) More than half of participants reported that the death had a significant effect on them, with over 20% stating that they still feel those effects. Friend (n=39) Family (n=29) Other (n=7) Total (n=75) The death had little effect on my life. 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% The death had somewhat of an effect on me but did not disrupt my life. 15.4% 34.5% 14.3% 22.7% The death disrupted my life for a short time. 30.8% 37.9% 0.0% 30.7% The death disrupted my life in a significant or devastating way, but I no longer feel that way. 25.6% 10.3% 14.3% 18.7% The death had a significant or devastating effect on me that I still feel. 28.2% 17.2% 71.4% 28.0% 4. Exposure to suicide (personal)
  28. 28. <1 year (n=8) 1-5 years (n=26) 5-10 years (n=15) >10 years (n=27) The death had little effect on my life. 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% The death had somewhat of an effect on me but did not disrupt my life. 37.5% 26.9% 6.7% 22.2% The death disrupted my life for a short time. 12.5% 42.3% 40.0% 18.5% The death disrupted my life in a significant or devastating way, but I no longer feel that way. 50.0% 19.2% 20.0% 11.1% The death had a significant or devastating effect on me that I still feel. 0.0% 11.5% 33.3% 48.1% Table 9: Impact of exposure to suicide (personal), by length of time. 4. Exposure to suicide (personal) There was no significant relationship been the length of time since the death and the reported impact that the suicide had on people.
  29. 29. 4. Exposure to suicide (professional) More than half (64.4%) of respondents had interviewed or interacted with someone bereaved or affected by suicide as part of their work. When asked about the personal impact of these interactions, more than half of the respondents reported that it had somewhat of an effect, but did not disrupt their life (59.47%) while a further quarter indicated that the interactions disrupted their life for a short while. Table 10: Impact of exposure to suicide (professional). (n=143) The interactions had little effect on my life. 8.4% The interactions had somewhat of an effect on me but did not disrupt my life. 59.4% The interactions disrupted my life for a short while. 22.4% The interactions disrupted my life in a significant or devastating way, but I no longer feel that way. 5.6% The interactions had a significant or devastating effect on me that I still feel. 4.2%
  30. 30. 4. Exposure to suicide: workplace support Table 11: Workplace awareness and support. When asked to reflect on whether their workplace was aware of the impact that reporting about suicide could have, and whether supports were available, 70% indicated that their workplace was aware and there were supports available. (n=220) The workplace is not aware of the impact that communicating about suicide can have on staff and there is no support provided. 6.4% The workplace is not aware of the impact that communicating about suicide can have on staff but there is support provided. 13.2% The workplace is aware of the impact that communicating about suicide can have on staff but there is no support provided. 10.5% The workplace is aware of the impact that communicating about suicide can have on staff and there is support provided. 70.0%
  31. 31. 0.5% 1.4% 5.9% 34.2% 58.1% Yes, daily Yes, about once a week Yes, once or twice a month Yes, once or twice a year No, I have never used the Mindframe website 5. Exposure to Mindframe YES NO Figure 11. Use of the printed book for media (%)? When asked if and how often the respondents were using Mindframe resources in Australia, more than half of the respondents stated to never have used either the book or the website. 0.5% 0.5% 2.3% 30.5% 66.4% Daily About once a week Once or twice a month Once or twice a year I have never used it Figure 12. Use of the Mindframe website (%)?
  32. 32. 5. Exposure to Mindframe Most participants who have been exposed to Mindframe, indicated they were exposed via their workplace, about a quarter had received Mindframe email alerts. 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% 35.0% 40.0% 45.0% 50.0% In my workplace Mindframe email alerts Mindframe briefing or training On social media Not exposed Figure 12: How have you been exposed to Mindframe resources (%)? (all that apply)
  33. 33. 5. Comments provided about Mindframe “They need to be promoted more in all workplaces” “I'd like to get reminders of the resources available to keep their existence fresh in my mind” “Keep it up” “Love to have more distributed” “Information and training for people in Aboriginal communities would be beneficial” “I would love to undergo a Mindframe briefing/training! It would be incredibly helpful” “They're helpful and provide a reasonable set of guidelines for reporting suicide sensitively and responsibly” “Excellent” “I will consult them via their website now that I've been made aware of them” “I would like to receive the information” “While you do fantastic work, I find your approach to educating the media as also conservative. People are still overwhelmingly wary” “While I have not sought out the Mindframe resources I think I am reasonably well aware of key points. If I were in a dilemma about reporting suicide I would seek out Mindframe resources”
  34. 34. Support services Services are available to anyone needing immediate support.
  35. 35. Contact Us: Email: mindframe@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au himh@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au Twitter: @HInstMH @MindframeMedia Websites: www.himh.org.au www.mindframe-media.info

×