Influence of Media on Suicide


State Mental Health Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania

State Mental Health Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania

State Mental Health Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania


Introduction: Unethical media reporting of suicide facts can lead to further imitative suicidal behaviours. Guidelines for journalists and editors appear to be effective in promoting responsible reporting and preventing suicide.

Aim: To evaluate the impact of the proactive monitoring reporting on suicide on the online media and the suicide rate.

Method: 663 Lithuanian internet websites identifiable on comprehensive media were monitored using Newspoint service for the 6 months in the year 2016 (July-December). Specific search method was applied with the goal to review every single article with “suicide” related words. All identified articles were analysed. Moreover, editors were contacted and provided with advice on ethical reporting if needed within 24 hours after the article was published.

Results: 4,215 results were retrieved in the original search with 176 articles on suicide reporting. Two thirds of all articles were published in the 4 main media websites:,, and 92 (52%). Articles did not meet the criteria of responsible reporting on suicide. Within 6 months of the monitoring process, the number of the articles reporting on suicide had decreased by 2.2 times (37 – July; 17–December), and number of the articles which did not meet criteria of responsible reporting has decreased by 1.7 times (17 – July; 10 – December). After receiving the reports about the unethical articles, 2/3rds (two/thirds) of editors reacted positively: 42 took into account all the remarks (45.7 %), 13 partly corrected unethical issues (14.1%), 7 removed the articles (7.6 %). There were 823 suicides in Lithuania in 2016. It is 8.1 % less than in 2015 and 2/3 of all lives saved during the months of October-December.

Conclusion: Proactive monitoring of media reporting on suicide has the potential to prevent suicide.