Can the media affect how the population views mental illness and suicide?

Media matters in the responsible depiction of mental illness and suicide. Historically, and even today, both news accounts and works of fiction romanticize and sensationalize acts of suicide, and most media portrayals are inaccurate. Common inappropriate media approaches to suicide can lead in worst cases to copycat suicides and, at best, to increased discrimination and stigma related to mental disorders.
Reasonably good evidence shows that effective media portrayal reduces suicide, while sensational portrayal increases suicide. Just two months following sensational news coverage in Hong Kong of a carbon monoxide poisoning due to charcoal burning, this means of suicide became the third most common in that country. Conversely, media restriction and sensitive portrayal of suicide has led to reduced incidence of suicides and attempted suicides in the subway systems of Vienna, Austria, and elsewhere.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.