News reporting of suicide in nurses: A content analysis study.
Groves S., Hawley M., Lascelles KM., Hawton K.
Media impact on suicide is well-established. Groups at heightened risk of suicide, such as nurses, may be particularly influenced by poor news reporting. This study aimed to examine UK newspaper reporting of suicide of nurses and student nurses, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Print and online newspaper reports about suicide in nurses (including students) published in the UK between January 2018 and August 2021 were obtained and data extracted for analysis in collaboration with Samaritans' media advisory team. Content and quality of newspaper reports were examined using a content analysis approach. The study was compliant with the STROBE checklist. Nurse or student nurse suicides were reported in 134 articles, including 50 individual suicides. Most articles were acceptable against Samaritans' media guidelines. However, common problems included absence of signposting to support organizations and lack of suicide prevention messages. A minority of articles included methods of suicide within article headlines (18, 13.4%) and sensationalist or romanticizing language (14, 10.7%). Most contained occupation-related content. Many named the individual's specific hospital or university and a substantial proportion included occupation-related images. Working on the frontline was the most reported link between COVID-19 and nurse suicide. While reporting on suicide among nurses and students was largely acceptable, quality of reporting was variable. Occupation was often discussed, and most articles published during COVID-19 linked suicide to the pandemic. The research findings can help shape guidance on reporting of suicide in specific professions and occupations, including nursing, to encourage responsible reporting and reduce inadvertent promotion of suicide.