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Associations of Tabloid Newspaper Use With Endorsement of Suicide Myths, Suicide-Related Knowledge, and Stigmatizing Attitudes Toward Suicidal Individuals

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Abstract.Background: Educating the public about suicide is an important component of suicide prevention. So far, little is known about whether common misconceptions of suicide are related to individual tabloid newspaper use. Aims: This study aimed to investigate associations of time spent reading tabloids with endorsement of suicide myths, suicide-related knowledge, and with stigmatizing attitudes toward suicidal individuals. Method: In this cross-sectional online survey, we assessed suicide-related knowledge and stigmatizing attitudes toward suicidal individuals among 456 study participants in Austria together with their endorsement of five common suicide myths (e.g., "suicidal individuals do not communicate their intent"). Furthermore, we assessed participants' time spent reading tabloids. Results: Multivariate analyses controlling for gender, age, education, and the time spent reading broadsheet newspapers and watching television indicated that participants' time spent reading tabloids was associated with higher endorsement of suicide myths as well as with a lower level of suicide-related knowledge and a higher level of stigmatizing attitudes toward suicidal individuals. Limitations: Due to the study's cross-sectional design, causality concerning these associations could not be assessed. Conclusion: The present findings confirm that readers of tabloids are an important target group for suicide education efforts.