Suicide and the Media: An Analysis of Media Reporting on Suicide & Its Relationship to Suicide Death
Mark Sinyor, M.D., Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Mentor: Jane Pirkis, B.A. (Hons), M.Psych., M.App.Epid., Ph.D., The University of Melbourne
2014 Young Investigator Grant
Inside the Research
Bio: Dr. Sinyor received his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 2007. He is currently a staff psychiatrist and Clinical Investigator at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre as well as Assistant Professor and Clinical Researcher at the University of Toronto.
Research Categories: Psychosocial, community intervention
Abstract: There is evidence that media reporting of suicide, particularly sensationalized media reporting that includes details of suicide methods may increase the short-term occurrence of suicide deaths by those methods and possibly overall. At the same time, there is some preliminary evidence that media reports emphasizing coping strategies and other positive messages to people contemplating suicide may improve access to mental health services and possibly prevent suicide in the time period following their publication. Dr. Sinyor’s study will examine associations between the suicide rate in the city of Toronto from 1998 to 2013 and media reports about suicide. The study will identify all print and online reports on suicide in the Toronto media occurring during the study period as well as online social media reporting of suicide for 2013. Rates of suicide deaths will be identified through a review of coroner’s records. The objective is to determine whether media reporting influences the occurrence of suicide and, most importantly, which specific attributes of media reports are positively or negatively associated with suicide rates.
Impact: Informed public health policy for media reporting of suicide.