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Has quality of suicide reporting by print media changed in India? A re-examination of previous findings

1 Department of Psychiatry, D. Y. Patil Medical College, D. Y. Patil Education Society (Deemed University), Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Santiniketan Medical College, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Devavrat Harshe,
Department of Psychiatry, D. Y. Patil Medical College, D. Y. Patil Education Society (Deemed University), Kolhapur, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_196_22

Background: Suicide is a serious mental health problem in India, and suicide rates in India have risen over the past decades. Reporting of suicide by the media is a common cause for spurts of suicides that may occur. Methodology: Suspected suicide by the renowned actor Sushant Singh Rajput was selected as the reference case. The top two Indian daily newspapers published in English having the highest circulation as per data provided by the Registrar of Newspapers, Government of India, were selected to be part of the study. The authors screened all news stories in the two newspapers within a 6-month period (3 months prior and 3 months post the date of the reference suicide case), and these news reports were evaluated as per the suicide reporting guidelines for media laid down by the Indian Psychiatric Society. The data were analyzed using Chi-square test and descriptive statistics where appropriate. Results: Our search yielded 158 articles from a period of 6 months, with 50 articles published before the suspected celebrity suicide and 108 published after. 29.7% had the word suicide in headline, 14.6% of them had news printed on the first page, 17.7% had a suicide note mentioned, whereas 1.9% mentioned prior attempts by victim. Conclusions: There is no change in media trend toward reporting suicide as noted following postcelebrity suicide, and so it is essential that media follow guidelines stringently when reporting a serious problem like suicide.

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