Mass media, cultural attitudes, and suicide. Results of an international comparative study

Crisis. 2001;22(4):170-2. doi: 10.1027//0227-5910.22.4.170.


Many studies indicate that the suicidal behavior in a society is affected by the suicide stories publicized. Cultural valuations appear in the way media present self-destruction. The reflection of sociocultural attitudes toward suicide can be observed and analyzed in these texts. In this research, reports about suicide (n = 2203) in the years from 1981 and 1991 taken from daily newspapers were gathered--three central and regional papers in each country. A content analysis was performed of the suicide reports in Hungary (n = 244), Japan (n = 684), the United States (n = 265), Germany (former West n = 458, former East n = 60), Austria (n = 405), and Finland (n = 81), on the basis of the following variables: mentioning of the name, personal data, prominence of the suicidal person, qualification of the suicide, methods, motives, positive or negative consequences, alternatives, and the expression(s) used to refer to the act. After a coding process, an analysis was conducted as to whether any significant differences existed in the rate of the several characteristics in the countries from the point of view of the possible imitation-identification and of the cultural differences are the most important findings interpreted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Culture*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*