Changes in media reporting of suicide in Australia between 2000/01 and 2006/07

Crisis. 2009;30(1):25-33. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910.30.1.25.


Aims: To evaluate changes in Australian news media reporting of suicide between 2000/01 and 2006/07 against recommendations in the resource Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness.

Methods: Newspaper, television, and radio items on suicide were retrieved over two 12-month periods pre- and postintroduction of Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness. Identifying and descriptive information were extracted for each item. Quality ratings were made for a stratified random sample of items, using criteria from the precursor to Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness.

Results and conclusions: There was almost a two-fold increase in reporting of suicide during the study period, with 4,813 and 8,363 items retrieved in 2000/01 and 2006/07, respectively. The nature of media reporting showed some variability, with an increased emphasis on items about individuals' experiences and a reduced emphasis on policy and program initiatives. Most strikingly, there was significant improvement on almost all individual dimensions of quality and overall quality. These findings are positive, although there are still clearly some opportunities for improving the way in which the media report and portray suicide. In order to improve standards, continued support should be provided for the dissemination and evaluation of Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Newspapers as Topic
  • Radio
  • Suicide*
  • Television