The media is without question a powerful force in shaping culture, and thus, it is not surprising that it has the power to influence suicide too – for better or worse. The connection between certain types of reporting on suicide and increased risk among vulnerable individuals is clear: the media can increase the copycat, or contagion effect of suicide. Conversely, however, the media can also increase help-seeking by promoting useful resources, by giving people the correct information about suicide, mental health, and recovery and by creating positive social norms that change behavior on many levels in our society. On your campus consider the following strategies to engage local media:

  1. Invite visual media (television, print) to cover a highly engaging visual suicide prevention campaign such as “Don’t Erase Your Future” (involving chalk art) or “The Stencil Project”
  2. The media are often interested in personal stories of hope and recovery (whether a personal mental health struggle or bereavement by suicide). Be sure your spokesperson is willing and prepared to share before lining them up with the media.
  3. Develop a list of topic experts and send the media a “media kit” with how your group can help them cover various issues of suicide.
  4. Be timely with your media pitches – consider how the times of the year or other current events might relate to a campus interest in suicide prevention.

To help the media, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center has developed: “At-a-Glance: Safe Reporting on Suicide”.

Special Issues:

  • Becoming a powerful ally in suicide prevention
  • Reporting on suicide and the contagion effect
  • Using social marketing to change culture

For more information, please check out the following links.

  • Reporting on suicide: Recommendations for the Media (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  • Media and Suicide Prevention (World Health Organization)
  • Media tools for suicide prevention (Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
  • Guide to engaging the media in suicide prevention (Suicide Prevention Action Network)
  • Promoting Mental Health and Preventing Suicide in College Settings (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)