Researching how media coverage affects suicide rates

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and it is the third leading cause of death for adolescents. While there are many physical, mental, and social factors that can contribute to suicidal behavior, one risk factor is suicide contagion, a process by which exposure to the suicide or suicidal behavior of one or more persons influences others to commit or attempt suicide. The purpose of this project is to test the media contagion hypothesis which suggests that certain types of media coverage of suicides are associated with an increase in suicides. Researchers at the Annenberg School for Communication will test this theory through two initiatives: (1) an in-depth analysis of how newspapers report on suicide and what effect, if any, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention guidelines on reporting such stories have had on reporters and editors; and (2) the creation of a profile of suicide modeling in both the press and popular culture to test the contagion hypothesis.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $100,000.00

Awarded on: 10/4/2000

Time frame: 10/1/2000 - 7/31/2001

Grant Number: 39573


University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication

3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104-6220


Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Project Director


Deborah G. Stinnett
Project Director