Trends in Newspaper Coverage of Suicide in Israel: An 8-Year Longitudinal Study

Yossi Levi-Belz, Racheli Starostintzki Malonek, Sami Hamdan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The nature of newspaper coverage of suicide events can impact suicide risk. Thus, the World Health Organization published recommendations for reporting suicide in the media. To date, Israel has no data regarding adherence to these media guidelines and no indication of the influence of the Israeli National Suicide Prevention Program (NSPP) on adherence. Aiming to fill these gaps, the current study examined (1) Israeli newspapers' adherence to the guidelines for suicide coverage and (2) the impact of the NSPP on the adherence level of media reporting. Method: Adherence to newspapers coverage guidelines was examined in two leading Israeli newspapers at three time points: T1 (2012, two years before the NSPP’s establishment), T2 (2016–2017, 2–3 years after its establishment), and T3 (2018–2019, 4–5 years after NSPP’s establishment). All articles reporting on suicide or suicidal behavior were analyzed at each time point regarding their adherence to the media guidelines. Results: Two hundred articles were assessed and analyzed. The adherence level was 49.35% across all time points. We found improved adherence at T2 (after the initiation of the NSPP) in most of the guidelines but a slight decline at T3. Adherence to guidelines regarding prevention (Do guidelines) showed no significant improvement over time. Conclusions: General adherence to guidelines was relatively low. However, steps can be taken to improve media coverage of suicide stories. The NSPP should make greater efforts to promote changes in media coverage of suicide events in Israel, such as providing information about risk factors, prevention, and intervention. HIGHLIGHTS A longitudinal study examined Israeli newspapers over three time points in the last decade. General adherence level to the suicide coverage guidelines was 49.35% across all time points. The National Suicide Prevention Program was linked to improvement in adherence to most guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1206
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 International Academy for Suicide Research.

Funding

This work was conducted in collaboration with the Suicide Prevention Unit in the Ministry of Health, Israel.

FundersFunder number
Ministry of Health, State of Israel

    Keywords

    • Guidelines
    • longitudinal
    • media
    • prevention program
    • suicide

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