The influence of media reporting of a celebrity suicide on suicidal behavior in patients with a history of depressive disorder.
Cheng AT., Hawton K., Chen TH., Yen AM., Chang JC., Chong MY., Liu CY., Lee Y., Teng PR., Chen LC.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have directly assessed the impact of a specific media report in vulnerable people. This study investigates possible influences of media reporting of a celebrity suicide on subsequent suicidal behaviors and associated risk factors among depressive patients. METHODS: Depressive patients (N=461) were assessed through a structured interview soon after extensive media reporting of a celebrity suicide. RESULTS: Among 438 depressive patients exposed to the media report, 38.8% reported an influence on subsequent suicidal behaviors, including 24 (5.5%) with a suicide attempt. The risk of such influence was highest among patients in a severe depressive state just prior to the media report (adjusted OR 7.81, 95% CI 3.28-18.59). Such influence on a subsequent suicide attempt was highest in patients with a most recent suicide attempt within one month prior to the media reports (adjusted hazard ratio 11.91, 95% CI 3.76-37.72). LIMITATIONS: Our finding of the significant media influence may reflect adverse thoughts among more suicidal and depressed individuals. The possible influence of other factors on the findings cannot be ruled out. CONCLUSIONS: This study has provided more convincing evidence suggesting negative influences of media reporting of a celebrity suicide on subsequent suicidal behaviors among depressive patients. Particular attention in terms of potential negative media influences should be paid to patients who are younger and currently depressed and have made a recent suicide attempt.